Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Excuses, Excuses

One of the first thoughts I had this morning was I’d spent most of the previous day actually working on my opus.

And I didn’t actually write anything.

No, this isn’t one more excuse. I did work on my opus.

You see I’d been working on my opus the night before and in writing the scene I realized I couldn’t remember if a certain character had died in a battle or not. (They are at war.)

If he hadn’t died, I was fine, I could use him.

If he had died, I had a problem. Not because I couldn’t use him again, but because I hadn’t addressed his death.

So of course, I had to check.

Finding the correct scene wasn’t too difficult. However, it showed that the character in question had died. So I had to figure out how to address it.

But realizing this wasn’t the only time I’d forgotten a detail in my rather large opus, I thought it would be helpful if I had a complete list of all the characters which included any details about them, like being killed, so that I had an easy reference to refresh my memory when I needed it.

First I required a complete list.

So I started on page one and carefully combed through for all such details.

So far I have three and a half pages of names and I’m less than forty-five percent of the way through it. And I basically worked on it from the time I got up until I went to bed with few interruptions. (I told you it was an opus.)

I ate and even helped Bonnie and my daughter with their stories while still working on mine.

While I had been rather proud of myself for concentrating on my writing for so long, my next thought was that I hadn’t done a whole list of chores like balancing checkbooks, paying bills, dishes, laundry.

You get the idea.

The whole thing actually bummed me out. I had wanted to continue my search so I could address the issue of the characters death and finish the scene that had set the whole thing off. But, of course, I knew it would take a good part of the day to get my to-do list knocked down.

Then as I went over the things I was supposed to have done yesterday one particular item jumped out at me and I couldn’t help but laugh.

Usually I use my to-do list, and the many interruptions from my family, as an excuse for not writing. So I find it rather amusing that working on my opus was my excuse for not doing one very important thing on the top of my to-do list.

Write my blog post.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Writing Every Day

“Write every day.” That’s advice I’ve heard in writing chats since the very first one I attended way back in 2000. For years I viewed the statement on the same lines as the one about outlining before writing — one big load of not for me.

Of course, way back then, writing every day wasn’t for me, because I don’t write on Sundays. I absolutely refuse to write on that sacred day. (In my church, we call it the Sabbath and there is after all the fourth commandment. Exodus 20:8 - 11)

Hey, I may not be to the point of earning money doing this, but writing is work, a lot of work. More importantly, it’s my work, so not on the Sabbath. Anyway, the adage didn’t work for me, until I realized one thing.

The advice isn’t about work ethic as much as it’s about keeping in the habit it’s about not waiting for the muse to hit, and just about being in your writing place ready to write at a certain time. 

Meaning it doesn’t have to be every day, if it works better for your schedule and lifestyle to write only every other day, than do it. If some days of the week it’s easier to write first thing in the morning while others, it’s easier to write later in the day than do it.

The point isn’t to write every day, it is to write CONSISTENTLY. It’s about forming a habit that will help the muse know when it’s a good time to catch you ready willing and able.

But even the best-laid plans can get sidetracked. Konnie would be able to present more examples of that, but then Konnie’s writing plans tend to get sidetracked on a daily basis. She has too many people living in her house wanting her attention and time, and none seem to realize how much of time they hog collectively.

Since I live alone, I don’t have as many distractions, and I have in fact gotten in the habit of writing every morning except Sunday. So much so that I have trouble changing the time of day I write.

If I can’t write during the hours between breakfast and lunch, I may not get any writing done that day, and Monday was one day when I wasn’t able to write at all, no time. Busy all day. Tuesday, I did manage to open my WIP up last night. I wrote one paragraph. That’s all.  

Sometimes life does just does that to all of us.

I know what obstacles Konnie faces every day. I can name all six of them. J  What kind of obstacles do the rest of you face? I’m guessing its family and friends, both of which got in my way this week, and all of which gets in Konnie’s way daily. So name who make its hard for you to write every day, and maybe let them know if it will help.

Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Family Ties

Look at a Norman Rockwell picture and you’ll see multigenerational families gathered together enjoying one another’s company, a big family meal to celebrate a birthday or a kid’s birth, or the occasional holiday.

I can remember some similar experiences growing up, spending time with extended family. But because of time and distance, my boys have little or no memory of such multigenerational gatherings and considering their complete lack of living grandparents and great grandparents, a difficult thing to do.

It leaves me wondering if families are even close like Rockwell depicted anymore.

How many families do you know where all the adult kids live within the same city? County? State? How many extended families do you know who gather more often than once a year to celebrate anything or spend time with aunts, uncles and cousins?

My mother’s siblings all live in the same state we all grew up in, but the last two times I know they all gathered in one place were for my mom’s and her mom’s funerals.

My father’s siblings also all live in the same state, and technically their grandfather’s family has a reunion every year in Idaho Falls, though I haven’t heard about for the last few years. And Great-Great Grandpa Westover’s descendants have a reunion every year on the family ranch. Though I’ve heard attendance is falling and I have only been once, when my girls were young, before the boys were born.

I have a general idea where all my aunts and uncles are, but my husband isn’t even sure all of his are alive. We found one within the last ten years, but the others we have no contact with.

I can remember someone taking a five generation picture shortly after my niece was born, with said niece, my sister, my mom, my maternal grandmother and my mom’s maternal grandfather. I’ve never had the opportunity to form such a picture. And considering my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, etc. are all dead, to form one now I’d have to be the great-grandparent in it. So I’ll probably in my 90’s.

My oldest son can’t tell me even how many kids two of my brothers have, let alone genders, or names. He barely knows how many kids my youngest brother has. I’m sure his brother is even more clueless.

I had ties to my grandparents and cousins growing up. I still have contact with some of them. I remember my grandparents. My kids are missing that.

My second oldest is delving into family history with a fervor, finding stories where she can about her ancestors. And maybe that’s why she does it, to feel the bond with her family she doesn’t have here on earth.

But how do I help my kids create those bonds with their cousins?

How do you give your kids close ties to their extended family when they don’t see them, don’t know them, have never met them? How do you give your kids the feeling of loving grandparents when their grandparents are all dead? How do you create bonds with cousins your kids never get to see?

I know I’m failing. I feel bad becauase my kids don’t have that kind of extended family.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Best Laid Plans

I think we’ve often stated how different my life is from that of my sister, she does, after all have a husband, children, and pets, which I don’t have. One of the ways our lives are different is that she ends up making fairly regular trips to the ER.

This has more to do with the number of people in her household than anything else does. There have been months where Konnie has ended up in the ER several times, in just a week. Me, I can tell you where the ER is, but the only time I ever went to the ER more than once in a week’s time was not long before my husband died. He died within a week of my last trip to the ER with him.

Sixteen month before that was our previous trip the ER, and I can’t remember how long ago the visit before that was. Though I do recall that in the decade or so before that trip, my husband had taken two trips to the hospital in an ambulance, and I’d done it once. All three times for accidents, and all three were years apart.

Then came this week. Last Wednesday my doctor ordered some tests to figure out how come I was suddenly having new problems and the results came back that I might have a blood clot. When the doctor saw that, he called me and ordered me to the ER to undergo further tests to figure out if I did indeed have said clot.

You’ll be happy to know that I do not have one. I’m fine and improving, thanks to antibiotics, but I still ended up going back in ER yesterday afternoon. A friend called me, weak and in pain. I hurried to her place and drove her to the ER. And, thankfully, she is fine and on antibiotics, but on the way home she apologized to me for taking up so much of my day, and even said something on the lines of, “I’m glad you didn’t have any plans today.”

The truth was I did, not the least of which needing to write my blog post, but I also had working on my WIP, household chores, and balancing my checkbook on the agenda yesterday. She had in fact interrupted my writing. I didn’t get far.

But it got me thinking about how hard of a time Konnie always has getting any writing done, and I realized sometimes even our best laid plans have to be thrown out the window, there are just more important things. Like trips to the ER, something no one can plan on.

Hopefully today, I’ll manage to add more than 315 words to my WIP, balance my checkbook, do the laundry, and the dishes, and . . . J You get the picture.

Happy writing everyone.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Over the last several months I’ve heard more and more stories of people being labeled racist simply because they were born with less pigmentation than others. That’s it. No other reason other than the lack of pigmentation.
Not because they’d done anything mean, illegal or blatantly rude to anyone who happened to have more pigmentation than they did, but simply because of their lack of pigmentation.
In one case a judge told a three year old victim of a crime that the criminal, who happened to have a great deal of pigmentation, didn’t deserve a tough sentence for the crime of terrorizing this little three year old because the three year old was racist. Why? You guessed it. That poor child didn’t have enough pigmentation.
Now I’ve looked up the definition of racist, just to make sure I wasn’t forgetting what I learned all those years ago back in school, but according to racist and or racism means feeling your race is superior to another race.
So the amount of pigmentation someone has cannot possibly determine whether or not they are a racist or not. Their actions and words can, though.
And when I was in school the first thing they taught me to determine a racist is someone who judged someone based solely on the amount of pigmentation they had.
So calling me a racist simply because I lack said pigmentation would make you the racist, not me, because I’m not the one judging you on the amount of pigmentation you have. I’m judging your words and actions.
So everyone out there who are blessed with a great deal of pigmentation, not everyone who unfortunately lacks pigmentation is judging you on your overabundance of it.
We can however judge you on your actions.
If you are going to rob, steal, beat up defenseless women and children, use vulgar and profane language in public, walk around half dressed and your clothes falling off of you, yeah we can judge that. I don’t care how much pigmentation you have.
If you want to be respected as human beings, act like it.
Respect those around you.
Pull up your pants and clean up your language.
Stop blaming the world for your woes and get a job. If there isn’t any where you live, find a way to better your situation, like going to school and making yourself more employable.
There are people of all levels of pigmentation who have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made something of themselves without breaking any laws.
I sincerely doubt Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned the world we have today when he declared “I have a dream”.
He didn’t want those with lots of pigmentation turning the table on those with little, he wanted us all to live together as equals.
But that’s never going to happen if we continue to see an issue of pigmentation, something determined by our genes, as something to divide us.
Pigmentation is only skin deep. Underneath that we are all human beings.

When we can remember that, we will finally achieve equality.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


During their school years, I’m sure most kids had a class they didn’t look forward to. Mine changed as I got older, but when I was in grade school, I hated Art class.

I groaned a lot when I saw our teacher, which was a lot because, unfortunately, she was my mother. Despite being her offspring, I can’t draw. Doodle yes; draw no, evident in the fact that I got a D in art.

My mother didn’t give up trying, she even convinced me to take art in seventh grade. Frankly, both of us figured if someone else taught me it would work better.

Well he did give me a C. I guess that’s better, but I still can’t draw. I can barely even tell you what perspective is. And, heck, that’s vocabulary, not art!

I can still see my mother drawing lines at an angle over the paper, and then sketching different things at different spots on the graph she made, as she talked about how to make things larger that are closer and smaller that are further away.

Next to the color wheel, perspective was probably the easiest thing for me to learn. It made sense to me.
Of course, when I gave up on being an artist, I figured I didn’t have to worry about perspective ever again. That is until the other day when it dawned on me I have to deal with it all the time.
POV is perspective!

And boy is there a lot more to perspective when you’re using words rather than drawings. In writing, perspective isn’t affected by how near or far the thing is, its affected by era, upbringing, attitude, experience, and setting.

A character from say the 1830’s is going to have a different attitude, experience, and even upbringing than one from today. They’d use different term too. Of course, characters from the same era can have different attitudes, depending on upbringing or experience. Perspective makes a huge difference.

It can make a difference in how you’d write a scene too.

Is the narration in the narrator’s voice or the character’s voice?
What attitude does the character have? What is the character’s experience? How a character feels about the events around them will affect how they respond to those events and two characters are going to respond alike.

Number one, if they did, it would make for a boring story, and number two, it wouldn’t be realistic. Even Konnie and I don’t respond the same to any given situation; we don’t think alike – most of the time. After all, while our formative vital statics are virtually the same, there’s that little she’s shy I’m not issue that makes a huge difference in how we feel.

Writing perspective isn’t showing the vista from where the character is standing, it’s about attitude since an outdoorsy person would view the same forest differently than a city person making the story different.

And I find it changes everything in the story, when I change the POV. Don’t you?

And it’s time to get back to my writing! Have fun everyone. J

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Name Thing

Not long ago my middle daughter and I were having a conversation and it somehow got on names.
Something prompted me to mention the calendar my father had listing everyone’s birthdays. The calendar had twelve squares, one for each month. In each Dad listed family members birthday by the day they were born, their first name and then the two digit year they were born. However, my middle daughter and my brother’s oldest daughter were born a month and a day apart and have the exact same first name.
 Dad’s solutions was to add their middle initial to the board.
When I saw it, and read the entries for those girls’ birthdays, I had to laugh. “Dad you should have used their last initial.”
This was obvious to me since those are clearly different whereas their middle initials are the same, even if they are different names. The way Dad did it, made it look like he listed two birthdays for one girl.
Anyway that story led me to retell how her cousin hadn’t known, when they were in grade school, that they had the same name. We had as a rule used a common nickname for our daughter but my brother refused to shorten any of his kid’s names. So one day, in my niece’s presence, when I was a bit irked with my own daughter and called her by her full first name, I had to explain that they had the same name.
This discussion led to us talking about how moms call kids full names when they are upset with their kids. I told my daughter that I tend to use my children’s first and middle names when I’m mad, for all but my youngest daughter. I use her first two names when I’m in a good mood.
“That’s not fair. Why do you do that?”
 “You try saying Joy when you’re mad.”
I let her think on that a moment.
I finally pointed out. “When I’m mad at her she gets her full name, not just her first and middle name.”
Truthfully, I have used my other kids full names, but generally the first two are enough for them to know they are in trouble.
But as my youngest daughter read this, she pointed out that I rarely call her by just her first name.
She’s right. I do usually use her first two names. Either that, or her nickname, which I often pair with her middle name anyway.
I really like her middle name.

Can you blame me?