Monday Musing #6 – Unexpected Inspiration

Everyone studies something they never expected to, at least once. In school or in life. Since I got my undergrad I’ve learned a lot about marketing (not what I majored in) and, randomly, the food industry (same).

In college, it was art history.

As I mentioned to Danielle over at The Caffeinated Writer recently, I went to a school so liberal arts that it didn’t believe in math requirements. It didn’t believe in language requirements, large class sizes, tests, or letter grades either. I chose this school largely because of the focus on writing, but also because I didn’t want to have to take any more classes in my least favorite subjects: math, foreign language, and history. I got through tolerably well to AP Calc in high school which was plenty of math for me, thanks, and I scraped through enough years of Spanish class to learn grammar rules and that I’m not good at learning languages. As for history, I’m just awful at keeping track of dates and always found the subject to be generally pretty dry.

But what I didn’t account for was class sizes (10-20 for a seminar, 20-60 for a lecture), and how competitive it made some courses. If it was a popular subject or professor, forget about it. Well… still try, but have lots of backups.

In my sophomore year, I started working on my lecture credit requirements by signing up for a class titled Art & The Sacred. Although it was technically listed as a history class I was able to overlook that fact in favor of the focus on art and it’s historical connections to religions. It turned out to be taught by a delightful little old man whom one of my friends was absolutely convinced was a Time Lord. (Don’t as me why. Dr. Who is something I keep meaning to get into but for some reason never have.) I sat through the entire semester enthralled, especially by illuminated manuscripts.

Continue reading “Monday Musing #6 – Unexpected Inspiration”

Sunday Gratitudes #7

Practice present-moment gratitude.

As you move through your day, pause now and then when you remember, and think as you do something “I am grateful.”

I like to do this with my morning cup of tea. Try touching your tea or coffee cup with gentle love and appreciation before you take your first sip. Moving through your day with awareness and grace in this way will mean that when you do sit down to write your gratitude list those things will come to mind.

(How to Start a Gratitude Practice to Change Your Life, by Helen Russell)

I’m grateful for…

🐊 – Finding a new mattress cover that actually fits in our ThinTwin washing machine.

🐊 – A good first week at work! I am loving the big desk and two monitors, and my new coworkers are all very welcoming and nice.

🐊 – Being pushed into unfamiliar situations, and knowing that I’m handling them better than I would have a few years ago.

🐊 – Keeping up with my writing fairly well now that I have a full time job again.

🐊 – The salad boxes I found at Costco, which not only contain balsamic vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese, but also a fork. (Important because I am unreliable at remembering to bring silverware.)

🐊 – My wonderful partner, always.

What have you felt grateful for this week?

The Ultimate Book Tag

I was tagged by Brigid Gorry-Hines to do the Ultimate Book Tag. 😀

  1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?

I didn’t when I was a kid, or randomly one spring while I was still in college, but I started getting carsick at some point in high school and the fun continues.

  1. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you?

Douglas Adams. The Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series, books, and tv series all have such a strong voice — not so much the movie, which I don’t like all that much.

  1. Harry Potter series or Twilight saga? Give 3 points to explain your answer.

Harry Potter series.

First point: I haven’t read Twilight, largely because of the problematic relationship dynamic between Bella and Edward but also because, uh, sparkly vampires. I prefer my vampires more like the ones in Buffy The Vampire Slayer (soul-less demons with little to no moral compass, just their own self-interests) and Sunshine by Robin McKinley (unsettlingly inhuman, both in appearance, psychologically, and in the way the perceive different places in terms of uniformity of surroundings rather than physical distance — even the “good guy” vampire is decidedly not human, despite having a moral code).

Second point: I read these as a kid, and that sort of thing sticks with you. I remember my fifth grade teacher reading a UK copy of The Chamber of Secrets because it hadn’t come out in the US yet, but one of my classmates had just moved from England. I’ve reread them since, and while the earlier books are lighter and more geared for a younger audience (like, geared toward someone Harry’s age with each book) there’s a good amount of foreshadowing for the darker elements of later books, so the appeal is still there.

Third point: Although most of the characters in Harry Potter meet their future spouse at Hogwarts and seem basically fated to end up with said future spouse from early on even if they don’t get together for a long time, I think a vampire who’s over a hundred years old but still content to hang out in high school and date a seventeen-year-old is sillier. Continue reading “The Ultimate Book Tag”

Wednesday Words of Wisdom #4 — Hostages


“If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favorite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable.” ~ Joss Whedon

(image source)

I am not surprised to see a quote like this come from someone who’s created some of my favorite characters and then murdered them. Why Wash, why? Still, this is classic advice.

“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” ~ William Faulkner

As writers, we like our characters. We like our plots We like our settings. And sometimes we get so overfond of them that it’s hard to hear the constructive criticisms they sometimes need. We “kill our darlings” and resurrect them in another form with every fresh round of editing — or maybe we put them to rest and let them stay there. Maybe they’ll reincarnate in a different story entirely someday.

Joss’ quote is more like… holding your darlings hostage. Because taking your best idea out? Your best idea? (My immediate suspicion is that my favorite idea or scene is central, the one I’m building my entire story concept on.) Either you grit your teeth and do it, or you kick into high gear and figure out how to save it. You bargain. You manage another page so that you can justify keeping your favorite.

When it really comes down to it, what would you do? Would you take this advice? Would you need someone else to tell you to write more or cut it? I know I would. Could be a cool group writing exercise.

Daily Writing Progress #7

Tuesday, February 16th

  • Missed this day.

Wednesday, February 17th

  • Missed this day.

Thursday, February 18th

  • Project: Future post B
    • Total Word Count: 505
    • New Words: 279
  • Thoughts: I’m just so relieved to have written anything…?!
  • Tomorrow’s Goal: Maybe write more, maybe take another breather day.

Friday, February 19th

  • Missed this day. But I’ve been taking a lot of world building notes!

Saturday, February 20th

  • Missed this day. Family visited!

Sunday, February 21st

  • Missed this day. Night before the first day nerves.

Monday,  February 22nd

  • Missed this day. First day of my new job! I will get back to writing more soon. 🙂

Sunday Gratitudes #6

I’m grateful for…

🌿 – The afternoon the sky looked like this and I got a great photo through the windshield (passenger side): 

2016-02-16 17.15.15

🌿 – The responsible adult/non-filthy human being feeling I get from taking out the trash and recycling.

🌿 – Getting interviews!

🌿 – Getting my partner’s help spicing up my cover letters, to which I attribute getting said interviews.

🌿 – ACCEPTING A JOB OFFER, and the fact that as soon as I broke down and asked my parents for a loan it became a much less urgent need, like, three days later. #MillennialVictories

🌿 – Nice phone conversations with my parents and grandparents.

🌿 – Dating an archaeologist/anthropologist major. My boo is the best help with world building, for serious. ❤

🌿 – The really cute, 33 second cat video I took of F. licking her tummy. She’s such a baby.


What have you felt grateful for this week?

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Wednesday Words of Wisdom #3 – Writing Time


“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e. do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days.” ~ J. K. Rowling

(image source)

I am not the kind of person who sets up writing days for myself. I do try to put blocks of writing time on my calendar, but those are subject to, um, forgetting to do that. On the occasions when I do have a writing day, it’s both wonderful and ineffably spontaneous.

But the appeal is undeniable. I’ve seen lots of advice along the lines of not waiting for “the right mood” because then you might end up waiting around forever, rather than writing the whatever it is you know is inside you somewhere. Once you manage to carve that out of your life — which takes a greater combination of energy and willpower than I have at the moment— hang onto it with tooth and nail. There will always be other priorities to consider, but that’s just life. If your writing time is important to you then carve out time somewhere else for the other stuff.

So far this post is a little “do ask JK days and not as I do.” Oops. On the other hand, I have set this posting schedule and held myself to it. Since doing so, I’ve written more than I have in years! So maybe I do have writing times, albeit more in the form of self-imposed deadlines. This strategy might not work for everyone, but since I never fell into the write-it-the-night-before camp in school I think this is just what works for me. It might not be writing days but I do put up a fight when it comes to getting my posts up as planned.

What’s your writing time strategy, blog-writing or otherwise? Do you have different strategies for different types of writing?

Daily Writing Progress #6

Tuesday, February 9th

  • Project: Quotes challenge posts
    • Total Word Count: 1488
    • New Words: 754
  • Thoughts: Three posts written and scheduled, yay!
  • Tomorrow’s Goal: Less writing, more applying for jobs. This is the last ay of my free trial, and while I would heartily recommend the site to anyone I can’t afford to do many paid things right now. Someday, though. Someday.

Wednesday, February 10th

  • Project: Private journal
    • Word Count: 419
  • Project: How my characters handle stress
    • Word Count: 534
  • Thoughts: I’m just satisfied with the job applications I sent out, today’s post going up, and remembering to let people know I’ve nominated them for the quote challenge.
  • Tomorrow’s Goal: More job applications! And something creative too. A girl’s gotta have some fun.

Continue reading “Daily Writing Progress #6”

Monday Musings #5 – Positive Bragging

Raise your hand if you hate writing cover letters.

(Anyone not raising your hand, please tell me your secret. I crave enlightenment here.)

A few years ago I worked with a career counselor who, to my great benefit, introduced me to marketing by suggesting an internship I could apply for. While I can’t say my career has skyrocketed since then, I can say that I’ve taken significant steps in becoming a more confident and effective part of the workforce.

Now that I’m job hunting again I have a lot more experience and qualifications to work with on my resume… but that’s always been a hard thing for me. I don’t know, I think there’s something about my brain that gravitates towards writing fiction so much that writing non-fiction is a bore and a chore and a pain. At the very least, I have not always been very good at being my own advocate.

So I thought I’d share this for anyone who feels they’re in the same boat. I recently shot an email to that same career counselor and he recommended I fill out this questionnaire adapted from BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus. I had the most trouble with the second question, because I could only think of nine really interesting things I’ve done or have happened to me, but it’s a really great worksheet and resource. Here’s an example of one of my answers… Continue reading “Monday Musings #5 – Positive Bragging”