Connecting

Woman and boy working on homework togetherI spent the last three weeks making connections. Very temporary connections with very young people of various races and cultures. I, a total stranger, stepped into their classroom and walked them away to another part of their school’s campus to read tiny stories, ask questions and do brain-related activities. They all came. The vast majority stayed with me the 35-45 minutes it took to do the assessment–they all had the option to refuse. They didn’t know I checked out okay with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and passed a security check performed by their school district. I said, “Come, please.” Their teacher said, “You go.” Children are very trusting.

view detailsI learned a little about each child in our short time together. One boy with long braids wanted to learn more about creatures (insects.) I knew right off that a little girl was too scared to stay for the assessment. She was very withdrawn, more than shy, like something scary was going on at home. Some kids were reserved until I showed them a page of 30 lines of small pictures of puppies, soccer balls and coffee cups where they were to circle a certain arrangement of the pictures. Often, their eyes widened at the seeming enormity of the task. I said, “Dunh dunh dunh…” in an ominous way, and they smiled and embraced the task. That made it fun for me, too. I liked seeing their reactions.

One little kindergartener slipped her hand into mine as we walked back to her classroom. How sweet! That was like the highlight of the three weeks for me. Somehow, we touched hearts in a way we probably can’t explain and won’t remember. It was special though, and affirming.

view detailsI also reestablished a few connections made in the fall when I did this job then (field research with Harvard U. and U. of Michigan.) And I made some new friends. Some of us connected on Facebook as soon as we got home!

I used to be a very shy person. I could walk into a room and be totally unnoticed. Quiet, overweight and ignored, it’s a good position to observe people. Beware, the quiet ones are watching and listening… But that kind of treatment confirmed my self-talk that I was an uninteresting bumbling dork, condemned to life in a society that didn’t acknowledge my existence, let alone my worth.
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I credit writing for bringing me out. And maybe middle-age. As a writer wanting to improve, I reached out to a critique group and organized write-ins for NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy. I’ve met writers and others online I wouldn’t hesitate to meet in person. Talking about my writing lights me up and gets other people excited, too. People express awe when I tell them I wrote a novel.

Following this dream, accepting and using my God-given creativity has given me a new door to life. A wide French door with a beautiful view of people, ideas, emotions, dreams and experiences. And a door I can also close for awhile to create alone, as most writers do. That’s a time I still crave and cherish. Each fuels me for the other. It’s a glorious thing.

How do you connect with people? How do your personal giftings help or hinder forming new and improving old relationships?

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Needed: Procrastination Techniques

I’m looking for new ways to put off writing. I love writing but lately, since I published my first book, my mind has been wanting to take more time off. It’s like I was so focused on accomplishing that goal and once I did, I have failed to develop another all-consuming mental activity. Or, I haven’t renewed a prescription with the beneficial side-effect of the ability to focus better. Yes, there is such a pill!

I have started a list of different categories. Some of these activities are hated by me, but for some unknown reason, at times I find them preferable to doing that which I enjoy most.

Today’s technique will be the easiest. I’ll save the harder ones for later. Feel free to adopt any of these as your own to put off what ever you like to do.


Technique 1: Employing the Computer to Procrastinate

This might be every writer’s favorite, except for those who write by hand. I know several who do. I make lists by hand, and doodles. Not much else. This is not an exhaustive list, but I hope to have more to add in the future.

1. The Internet provides numerous ways to fritter away your life. I won’t include online games here because I don’t play.

a. Facebook–Of course. Do I have any new notifications on my personal page? My authors page? How about posting a status update. “My cat just yakked up a hairball.” No, not really. He’s snoozing with my husband.

b. Twitter–Tweet something writerly so people following me because I write will think I am productive and talented and so the filmmakers (how did I get filmmakers following me? Oh right–I mentioned I’m writing a screenplay) might think I’ll have a novel to adapt. One can hope.

c. Click on links on FB and Twitter. Lots of writing stuff, movie stuff, lots of stuff stuff.


d. Look for pictures of Michael Fassbender.

e. Check Kindle to see if I sold any books recently. Same for Smashwords and CreateSpace.

f. On Amazon, read excerpts of Fifty Shades of Grey (okay, I did that once–for a long time. I think they took out the most juicy stuff, which is really all right with me.)
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g. Check Gmail to see if I have any new Twitter followers.

h. YouTube–start off with something of value then digress in any direction I choose–usually comedy and parody.

i. look for and download free e-books.

j. Check Goodreads to see how many more people signed up for my book giveaway.

k.Sign up for newsletters.

l. Look for a job.

m. Look for more pictures of Michael Fassbender.

n. Check regular email. This is a double one because then I can read the stories on the Yahoo feed. None so far have mentioned Michael.

o. Then there’s always good old fashioned research.

Wait-I have a new FB notification. Okay. Nothing exciting.

p. Watch movie trailers. Watch those with Michael several times.

q. Go to Huffpost women and read the sex articles.

r. Look for new movies to add to queue on Netflix (wish they had more Michael movies).

s. Write a blog post.

t. Go to Script Frenzy site and play with plot maker.

u. Tweak author website.

v. Look at blog stats to see if anyone read my last post.

w. Check bank account and clear away cobwebs to see if there is a positive balance.

x. check to see if I sold any more books than the last time I checked. Check to see how much I have to sell before I get a royalty payment

y. Go check the substitute teacher’s chatboard I used to frequent.

z. Look for another pic of Michael.

Next post will be how to use your computer without the internet to procrastinate.

How do you procrastinate online? Share, please!

(I promise NOT to mention Michael Fassbender once in the next blog post)

NaNoWriMo

Yes, National Novel Writing Month. If you ever thought you wanted to write a book, this is for you. Thirty days of literary abandon. 50,000 words in 30 days. Turn off you inner editor. Writeordie.

This is my third year. In 2008, I wrote my first novel, slightly over 50,000 words titled A Box of Rain, named after one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs. I joined a critique group a few months later and didn’t get laughed out after my first submission. It was fun to write and edit. I created an alternate ending that morphed into it’s own book, Another Place on the Planet. I just finished it–for the second time although it still needs much editing and revising. I hope to submit it for publication by, lets say, the end of 2011. On top of that, I have about 1000 pages and scores of scenes which will hopefully find their ways into sequels. I love the characters, I really do.

in 2009, My Nano Novel was The C Word Can Make You Cry. I don’t really like that title anymore, but… I cheated a little on it. Last year on Nov. 29, I had about 400 words left to write and I was so tired and having a bit of trouble with the end so I said, “I’ll finish tomorrow. What can possibly keep me from it?” and went to bed. A lesson in hubris. I left work early the next day with severe abdominal pain and midnight approached on that Nov. 30, I thought, “Oh, I didn’t finish. Oh, I feel too crappy to write, no biggie if I don’t finish and win.” But it was. So, I borrowed a few pages from Another Place–it was all written that month–and copied and pasted and had my 50,000 words. And won. And went to the hospital.

This year my novel is called Subculture. It’s actually an idea I got for Another Place, a movie the MCs were making. It’s going a little slow. I’m only at 31,000 and should be at like 40,000. Yikes! But five days off is upon me. I can only write any kind of volume with Write or Die, a website where you select a word amount and a time and if you stop typing the screen turns red and annoying sounds go off. Otherwise, I write, but take lots of time to think or pluck my eyebrows or go on Facebook or clean off my key board with an artist’s paintbrush. I have ideas. Have several choices for the ending. Guess I’ll just choose one. Can always change it.

So, novel writing wasn’t enough and in April, I did ScriptFrenzy, by the same fine folks that bring you NaNoWriMo, the Office of Letters and Light. 100 pages of sreenplay in 30 days. I did much reading about screenwriting, joined a website and started following blogs by Hollywood script readers. I figure selling a spec screenplay has the odds of winning the lottery without buying a ticket and getting struck by lightening on the same day, but with a whole lot of work going in before hand. If nothing else, I’m learning to appreciate the art of film more, like playing an instrument helps you appreciate music. Plus, I save time and money avoiding movies I know I’ll hate. Novel writing and screenwriting are two different forms and while certain understandings apply to each, it’s important to not get the two mixed up while writing, especially the screenplay.

My April script was based on the third book (drafted but unwritten) of Another Place. I finished in plenty of time and started to edit it, where it remains until this day. I go back to it and diddle around from time to time. I also started one based on The C Word.

So, two years ago, I began writing and haven’t stopped. I gave up watching TV and crafting because I do that when i watch TV. One bad thing is I don’t read as much, except books about writing. It wasn’t hard to give up cooking and cleaning because I never did much of those things. If only I could give up my day job…