“Get back to work, ya lazy git!”
“Get back to work, ya lazy git!”
In the spirit of Spring Cleaning and All That Is Organized — and to inspire you to make your own creative workspace awesome — I am proud to introduce a new weekly feature here at My Blue Screen: Workspace Wednesdays. Each Wednesday, you will get an exclusive look at fellow artists’ workspaces à la Lifestyles of the Creatively Driven.
First on deck is my friend and fellow Third Ninja Omniscient “Es,” an incredible science fiction writer who I wholeheartedly expect to be discovered sometime in the near future. I can’t wait to see her books on the shelves.
Es has always dreamed of having her very own library. So when she and her family moved into their new house, she took one room and created not only a library/workspace that was inviting to the Muse, but also to her little dog. Check it out!
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Thank you so much, Es, for sharing the evolution of your library with us. I love the idea of having a workspace where you not only create, but you can nap…and that is off limits to the rest of the family…not that we don’t love them. This makes me want to clean up my office…and maybe put in a La-Z-Boy…ya know, for brainstorming and plotting purposes. 😉
* Anyone who’s interested in seeing their creative workspace featured here, drop me a line in the comments. 🙂
My best friend and I, and all the little ducklings, went hiking yesterday, and I took pictures for my top secret St. Patty’s Day project. My friend got a little tiny sunburn. But as we drove home, the clouds started rolling in and dumped a bunch of rain and snow overnight.
So today we headed up the mountain again for some “mist shots.” Awesome. Maybe next week the Toddler and I will drive in the opposite direction and visit the beach. 🙂
Keeping it short and sweet this week, guys. I’ve got unfinished fiction screaming for attention on my desk, and it’s hurting my brain.
This one really drew me along, but I have to be honest, once I got to the final few pages, I realized where the author was going with it and rather wish he didn’t. I would have liked to have been surprised with such a marvelous build-up. But even with the predictable ending, I still think it’s a great story…mostly because I’m still thinking about it. 🙂
I didn’t really embark on this short story report with the intention of reviewing…just simply listing what I’ve read…but aw, what the hell. I’m bound to have a negative opinion sooner or later, and this guy’s been around long enough he can take it.
This story was just okay for me. Although it was exciting and action-packed, at its core it is a love story, one that doesn’t ring true. Kind of a deal-breaker for this reader. (Rocking title though.)
I will say, though, Mr. Sullivan has a story in F&SF’s April 2008 issued entitled, “The Nocturnal Adventure of Mr. O and Mr. D,” which I read contemporaneously, and I still remember it quite vividly. I loved this story enough that I may have to dig it out again and reread it now that I have been reminded of it.
This is the type of story I love to read: character-driven science fiction. A woman rebuilds her old flame from collected body parts and resurrects him with his recovered memories (his SOUL). It’s a wonderful story. I only wish the ending were drawn out a bit, that there was a little more struggle on the protagonist’s part before she makes the decision she does. Recommend.
That’s it. I’ll try to read more next week. And I will also try to read more stories that are available online. But for now, I write.
I put in 33 hours on the computer this week, and managed to hardly write any fiction. Boggling. Well, that’s not exactly true. I spent one night binge-writing a short story. I spent another night photographing dinosaurs and trying not to burn down the house. According to Ye Olde Captain’s Log, I spent the rest of the time working on the blog and doing market research.
I didn’t waste very much time, and yet, I don’t feel as productive as I’d like. For 33 hours, I’d like to see at least two short stories and an edit…enough to justify the current condition of the kitchen.
Unfortunately, I am still struggling with toddler sleep issues…although tonight I had to put my foot down and simply willed her to sleep. After only an hour and a half, she succumbed to my awesome mind control. Sigh. I think I’m just going to have to clear three days next week where we go nowhere and just focus on setting a schedule and teaching her to sleep on her own Super-Nanny style. I am not looking forward to it, but it needs to be done. Earlier this week, I spent four hours battling this kid to bed. Me no likey. 🙁
In other news, the one short story I had out to The Pedestal Magazine has come home to roost. But I am encouraged not only because the rejection included the sentence, “Please feel free to submit other work to us in the future” — which I will, thanks! — but because I had not one hurt feeling about it. I love this particular story, and I believe in it. But I can dig that it might not be a good fit for a particular market. Just need to send it out again.
Check it out. This is me showing signs of epidermis ossification. How do you like my alligator skin suit? 🙂
Anyway, I’ve decided to start including my “best” stats in the Captain’s Log in an effort to motivate myself to beat my own records. Feel free to give me your stats to
shame me encourage me to work harder. 🙂
Okay, if you haven’t heard of Amanda Hocking yet, hurry up and Google her and get caught up! Twenty-six years old, never traditionally published, 900,000+ digital copies of her books sold online…and growing exponentially.
Although she’s been selling in astounding numbers for some months now, her story hit the news wires big time on Wednesday. Somehow I missed it, but two different people told me about it…one of them with the idea that this is how I shall make my fortune…and quickly.
Don’t get me wrong. Although I clutch tightly to my dream of becoming a successful, traditionally published author, I am open to less traditional routes. Certainly more so now than before.
However, in no way do I imagine that I’m going to be able to produce a bestselling work in a matter of weeks, throw it up on Amazon, and rake in the cash. Especially not just because some 26-year-old kid did it. Why not? Because I haven’t yet done all the work of a bestselling author. My novel is currently in rewrites, and there’s just no skipping steps when it comes to this kind of thing…not if I want to put out a quality piece of work.
Yet “quick and easy money” is exactly what a lot of people are thinking right now. “Screw the gatekeepers of publishing, I’ll go directly to the people!” I think Amanda herself addresses the issue most eloquently and thoroughly in her latest post on her blog, but let me give you the bottom line.
Amanda Hocking has written 19 novels. She may be “only” 26 years old, but she’s completed more books than most novelists ever will in their lifetime. This is not an overnight success. This is the fruit of many, many years of labor, not to mention countless hours of marketing and promotion.
Who’s to say whether I — or anyone — could duplicate her success? But her story in no way convinces me that she’s somehow come across a magic feather, and that if I simply starting selling my stuff online for dirt cheap, that I, too, would enjoy the same overwhelming response.
What her story does do is inspire me to work harder.
So I just wanted to give her a thumbs-up…not just for her well-deserved success, but for all the hard work she’s put in. She may be young, but she strikes me as the epitome of professionalism. And it is because of that, more than anything else, that makes me want to buy her books…that and the fact that she’s a huge fan of just about every movie I ever loved as a teenager. 🙂
Some years ago, when I was working as a court reporter in civil court, I reported a wrongful termination trial. It probably wouldn’t have been memorable except for the fact that the plaintiff’s attorney was a walking disaster.
This poor woman always looked like she had gotten laser-blasted out of bed and instantly teleported into the courtroom. She had this sort of chronic wild-eyed look on her face, her hair truly bordered on Einsteinian, and she never could find anything she needed. During her examination of witnesses, she would shuffle and paw through her exhibits with her client scrambling to help her while the judge, opposing counsel, and jury looked on.
Then one morning, the attorneys stepped to the sidebar to argue an objection outside the presence of the jurors, and in the middle of her own argument this woman attorney gasped.
“Is something wrong, Counsel?” the judge asked.
In a very small voice, she said, “I just realized I’m wearing two different shoes.”
The judge chuckled. “Got dressed in the dark, did you?”
Apparently. As she left the sidebar to return to counsel table, her face was bright red. She took quick little steps, as if trying to blur her feet, but there it was, two black flat pumps, very similar in style and color, but one definitely with a bow and one definitely not.
And although I chuckled too as she continued the rest of her examination of the witness seated, with the toe of one shoe crossed over the other protectively, deep down inside I was relieved. Why? Because I was so glad it wasn’t me. Because it could have been. No kidding. That could have been me, feet shoved under the desk, eyeballs trying to telekinetically shove the hands on the clock towards quitting time.
Truthfully, I felt like an awful hypocrite for even smiling at this poor woman’s courtroom mortification. Every morning I would get up in a panic (because my auditory nerves do not always process the sound of the alarm); rummage through, sniff, and refresh clothes in the dryer with a dryer sheet while I brushed my teeth (because I was always too tired at night to get my crap together, and gullible enough to believe the lies I would tell myself about getting up early to do laundry and other such nonsense); jam out of the house with wet hair and turn on the ignition of the car only to discover I was out of gas (again, because I believed it when I told myself I would get up early and stop at the gas station on the way out)….
You see where this is going. We don’t need to go through all the excruciating details. Suffice it to say, I was hardly ever in a good mood by the time I skidded into my chair each morning. (Got pretty fast carrying my laptop bag though. Raced my boss up the escalators once. Naturally, I beat him…but that’s only because I kicked over the wet floor signs to tangle him up.)
During this time of my life, my excuse was that I commuted 20 hours a week. Then, of course, we opened a business, and I had that going for me as a great source of excuses. Before that, it was school and work. Now I have the baby to blame. She’s a great scapegoat. She’s the reason why I’m late, unprepared, confused, uninformed, and anything else I can get out of.
But now she’s starting to talk. She’s going to rat me out soon, so I thought I’d take control of the situation and just admit it.
I am a mess.
I have never learned the discipline of preparing for my day ahead of time. It takes me two hours to get out of the house. I do my dishes more on a weekly basis than a daily basis…and that’s being generous.
To be fair, I don’t spend very much of my “free time” — haha! energy+coffee came out of my nose just now! — goofing off anymore. As soon as
my boss the Toddler falls asleep, I go straight to the computer and write. While this is great and I feel like I’m finally finding my groove with my work, I am still finding myself rummaging constantly for items and notes I need and the chronic frustration is killing me. I hate living like this.
My laptop basically sits in a small patch of bare desk at the bottom of a stadium-like ring of papers, empty Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee cans (mocha, thank you very much), and paper plates stained with Hot Pockets grease.
My whiteboards are covered with a mix of novel-planning, short story rosters, grocery lists, and now moot reminders (like “wrap Christmas gifts”).
I have boxes of miscellaneous crap lining the floor, including an old bottle of antibiotics that made me feel sick…but I can’t bring myself to throw it away just in case. Just in case what? Honestly, there’s always that irrational fear that something completely unexpected might happen…like a nuclear attack or a zombie epidemic. You never know is all I’m saying.
By themselves, these things aren’t so bad, but cumulatively — let’s just say I have spared you many, many gory details. I am now eager — no, desperate to cast off the shackles of disorder. I think the writing will only benefit from it. Certainly my mental health will.
So this month’s focus here at My Blue Screen — aside from racking up 100,000 words (with your help, of course!) — is Spring Cleaning. Yep. That’s right. Spring has come early this year.
I want to be the girl who shows up in matching shoes and clean underwear. I want to be ready for anything. If opportunity knocks on my door, I want to be ready to dive-tackle it off the porch instead of chancing it wandering off while I’m looking for a bra.
I’m ready to let go of things in order to allow better things to come into my life. I accept that I am never going to use that scanner that takes up valuable real estate on my desk. I accept that I am going to have to throw things away.
And let’s face it. If we do end up having a zombie outbreak, chances are I won’t be alive long enough for the antibiotics to take effect…especially if they’re two years past their expiration date. And even if I do survive the initial attack and subsequent infection, I’ll still end up with one terrific headache.
Anyway, I know this is getting long, but I wanted to share one more thing with you.
As you may know, I think Steven Pressfield has written one of the best, most practical guides to the creative life: “The War of Art.” He also rocks an awesome blog. I hope Mr. Pressfield will forgive such a long excerpt, but I really think he says it best.
In the chapter headed, “A Professional Seeks Order,” Pressfield writes:
“When I lived in the back of my Chevy van, I had to dig my typewriter out from beneath layers of tire tools, dirty laundry, and moldering paperbacks. My truck was a nest, a hive, a hellhole on wheels whose sleeping surface I had to clear each night just to carve out a foxhole to snooze in.
“The professional cannot live like that. He is on a mission. He will not tolerate disorder. He eliminates chaos from his world in order to banish it from his mind. He wants the carpet vacuumed and the threshold swept, so the Muse may enter and not soil her gown.”
At this point, I would be happy for her to be able to sit on the couch without having to clear a space between the stuffed animals, broken crackers, picture books, and laundry.
Raising the bar, that’s me!
I feel a little crazed right now. I’ve got more ideas than I can keep up with, an office that looks like a disaster area, and a Toddler who keeps me on a very, very short leash. I should tell you that behind that rather underwhelming statement is an enormity of stress and pressure and frustration that I am loathe to expand upon. Why stir up stinky fumes?
Instead I will focus on what will make the situation all better. And that is words. Lots of words. No matter what is going on in my life, if the writing is going well, then everything else is going well, too.
With that said, I am accepting the Household Dinosaurs’ 100,000-Word Challenge. You help me pile up 100,000 words, and I am told there will be fog and a disco ball and aerialists next month. No kidding.
* Actually, we only need to write 99,330 words because apparentbook rocks. Thank you, sir!
Dudes, I’m tired…oh, so tired. But it was totally worth it. The Household Dinosaurs really know how to get down! Once I forwarded our awesome, stupendous word count to the head shaman dinosaur (Tink Triceratops) — via smoke signal, of course, which is kind of hard to do with birthday candles — I was given a VIP all-access press pass to…well, my own house actually. They just let me out of the bedroom to watch and take pictures.
It all started very early, with the Sacred Cleansing Ritual of Woolite.
A couple of hours later, after receiving dry-heat tumble massages, their fur bits all fluffed and fabulous, they each carried a lit wax taper symbolizing the lights of the Muses and began to walk the Ancient Path of Par-tay.
“Dearly Beloved…(heehee)…ahem…we are gathered here tonight to honor and pay tribute to the hardworking boys and girls who have contributed to this tremendous offering. The Muses have judged each of these 60,333 words and find them to be Par-tay worthy. Funny thing about the Muses…”
[I told Tink that the tape-recorder gave up the ghost right about here, but the truth is, it was 2:00 in the morning and Tink is a long-standing member of the Dinosaur Filibuster Society…and a long-practiced one. Thank goodness I woke up — er — the tape-recorder recovered in time to catch the end of his speech.]
“So in conclusion, the Muses extend their appreciation and gratitude for the words you helped bring into existence this month. Their light grows strong and bright with your generous offering. And out of our own appreciation and thanks for any old reason to par-tay, we each offer you dinosaur gifts.
“My gift is the gift of motivation. If you guys don’t slam this month’s word count record into the ground, then we can’t have another par-tay, and I’m gonna come to your house and mismatch all your shoes. Tough love works. I’m just sayin’.”
[Wow. I know. Tink is such an amazing public speaker. Tony Robbins, watch out for the little dinosaur!]
Next up to speak was Baby Dinosaur:
“My gift is the gift of faith,” Baby Dinosaur squeaked. “The smoke-filled mith-trees of time part for us to reveal a future bwight and pwomising. Your words will never be wasted. Is it time to eat yet?”
[There was a resounding “No!” from the audience, which I thought was a little unfair…except for the monkey, who shouted, “Hell to the yeah!” Or maybe that was me.]
Next up was Dada Dinosaur:
“My gift to you,” he says, “is M&Ms, lots of M&Ms. May they fuel your late-night efforts and sweeten your disposition.”
[He looked like he wanted to say more, but Dada Dinosaur is typically a dinosaur of few words. Of course, the monkey made a move for one of the M&Ms and Dada had to make a dive tackle to get it back, so that might be why his speech was a little brief.]
Directly following the Giving of the Gifts, audience members and fellow plushy colleagues jumped up on the dais for a traditional game of Hollywood Squares. [I know, there’s not enough squares, but there’s no talking to them.]
After a very extended game of Hollywood Squares, of which there was no clear-cut winner, only a few recommendations, the rest of the plushy gang split when the dinosaurs launched into the traditional dinosaur par-tay game of valor, Push-Pin Jousting, which looked a whole lot like Push the Pin in the Dinosaur’s Heinie to me. Dinosaur humor escapes me.
Then it was time for a little Vegas-style gambling. Tink and Dada got pretty competitive, but Baby ended up eating all of her “chips” and had to go to bed with a tummy ache, which was fine because it was waaay past her bedtime.
At this point, Tink and Dada became locked in a battle of wills, engaging in the Whoever-Blinks-First-is-a-Primordial-Throwback-that-Came-Way-Before-the-Egg. They are very good at this game.
After an hour, I thought it safe to join the Toddler and Baby Dinosaur in bed as it was getting cold sitting there on the wood floor and Dada and Tink wouldn’t share any of their M&Ms.
When I woke up the next day, Dada was missing, and I found Tink like this:
You’re probably wondering about the beer. I don’t give them beer. They steal it. But if you’re worried that they’re getting drunk under the legal age limit (they’re only 2 years old), don’t. They’re not drinking. I’m not entirely sure what they do with it — I think they may be bathing in it — but it kind of makes me mad that they waste good beer. I have to hide that stuff in the back of the fridge.
When I woke Tink, he stretched with a huge groan, flipped over onto his little dinosaur feet, and said, “That was one sweet par-tay. We need to get a fog machine.” And then he trundled off to bed.
I later found Dada Dinosaur inside my guitar with Lambie aka The Fonz, with no reasonable explanation for how they got there or what exactly they were doing in there. I decided I don’t need to know this.
All in all, not a bad party. Clean-up was relatively minimal, and no one had to use any of the little wastebaskets I set out…always a good thing. Good times. 🙂
Thank you again to everyone who contributed to February’s word count pile. I hope you’ll join us for next month’s challenge. The higher the word count goes, the dinosaurs promise me, the wilder and more lavish the parties will become. They don’t have any money or credit cards, so I’m not entirely sure how they’re gonna finagle a fog machine, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s never to underestimate a dinosaur.
Happy writing! 🙂