Monday, 31 December 2012

The Weekly Wrap 12/24


Monday 12/24 - At my makeshift office at my parents' house. Had some trouble focusing this morning, but got through some of chapter 2. Keep being interrupted by family, but it is what it is. At least they can see I'm working and not just talking about it!

A good pic of Boo, finally! She really is a pretty dog, I swear. 


Headphones to get me in the right mindset (and block out people talking). 

Tuesday 12/25 - It's Christmas, y'all! There's so much build up but on Christmas Day, once the presents are opened, there's plenty of time so I squeezed in some revision. 




Books off my Christmas List!

-On Writing By Stephen King - a really good book on writing that I've only read essays from before. It has some great anecdotes and really solid writing advice. 
-The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater - I hope this book lives up to the hype. 
-Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor - I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone and can't wait to start this. It's the kind of book I'd stay up all night reading just to see what happens next. 
-Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool - Sounds wonderful and it won the Newberry Award in 2011. 


Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday 12/26 - Happy birthday Mom! Chugging along through Chapter 2. 

Thursday 12/27 - Chapter 2 completed! Obviously this one was a bit longer than Chapter 1 (or needed more work). Only like 10 or 12 more to go. Wee! I've been using a voice recorder app on my phone to record myself reading what I've written so I can play back the tricky parts and hear what sticks out like a sore thumb. It's pretty cool. You never sound like you think you do so it's like having another person read my story and I'm able to get lost in it in a way that I never have before. I highly recommend it if you are writing. 

I also put together a recap of my life in 2012 for You Should.

I've been banished to the dining room, probably from all the eye rolling and heavy sighs every time I'm interrupted by a family member. 


Friday 12/28 - A full day open to me! I wrote up a little something fun, took my doggie for a morning run, and got some revising finished.

Here's a little something my friend Sara got me:

It's fun to get writing related stuff that isn't another Moleskin or stationary. 

Saturday 12/29 - It's a rainy Saturday morning, perfect for coffee, working, and reading. Ahh, such a life. I am LOVING On Writing by Stephen King. I blew through 200 pages of it yesterday, sad it's so short. I loved the section about his life because I'm a dweeb and want to know, but his writing advice is solid. Gotta practice, gotta dedicate yourself, gotta work. It definitely isn't a walk in the park. 

Sunday 12/30 - My, my. It's been a busy morning running around, trying to get organized before I have to go into work. I did a little something something on You Should, bought ink, and printed out the rest of the chapters I need to work on. So here it is, Momentum:

I've done the blue paper clips. Still need to do the red (and yes, I color coordinate my chapters depending on whether or not they've been revised). 

And now I'm off for NYE. Have a Happy New Year, y'all! 

Friday, 28 December 2012

10 Odd Bookish Habits

Reading can be an obsession, and as with any obsession, we all do it a little differently. I thought I'd share some not-so-normal bookish habits that I have.

1. I read more than one book at once. I know this doesn't sound too strange, but for most people, they tend to stick to one book at a time before moving on to others. Unless it's a novel I read in one session, I typically have three to four books that I'm reading at one time. For example, right now I'm reading Stephen King's On Writing and Different Seasons as well as Life of Pi by Yann Martel and a couple other stragglers where I started them and somehow lost interest.

2. I read while I'm blow drying my hair. No joke. It's totally weird but blow drying your hair is such a boring monotonous task and I try to squeeze in reading time whenever possible. I've also managed to put on makeup and do my hair while reading. Skillz.

3. I have a system for how I dog ear pages (and I'm not a purist where I never fold a page, sorry, not sorry). Typically, you see people dog ear pages at the top right, but I fold in the bottom corner of passages where I loved the writing and I fold down the top right one to mark where I am in the book. I rarely use bookmarks - I have a tendency to lose them - and I hardly ever keep a book jacket on the book, unless I'm using the front flap to put in between pages.

4. I can listen to music while I read. Sometimes, I prefer it. I'm fortunate that I don't get motion sickness so on long car rides, I fire up my iPod and get some reading done. It's like the book has a soundtrack. I love it.

5. I almost never reread books. Unless it's a beloved childhood favorite or one where I need to reflect, I typically finish a book and that's the last time I see it. It's hard for me to recreate the magic of reading something for the first time and I don't want to be disappointed if the book doesn't have the same effect it had as the first time. I will go back and look at parts that I really loved (see #3).

6. When I buy a book, I read the first sentence and the last sentence first. To me, it's important to end with something meaningful, just as it is to start. I've had people tell me that ruins the book. 1) Authors almost never give away the entire book with the last sentence. That sounds like terrible writing. The book should evolve naturally. 2) By the time I reach the end, I've forgotten what the last sentence was. It's like rediscovering those words and after having spent a considerable amount of time with the book's characters, the ending and last line feel that much more satisfactory. 3) As a writer, you want to see how others do it - how they pull the reader in and how they put the bow on top at the end. It's basically research.

7. I love big chain book stores, particularly Barnes and Noble. I know! I'm learning to patronize smaller, local brick and mortar shops, but Barnes and Noble has a special place in my heart. It's where I learned to love to read, where I spent a lot of time writing (I'm a walking cliche), and where I finished my first manuscript when I was 20. When I was a kid, toys and candy were privileges, but my parents never told us no when it came to books. I distinctly remember coming out of Barnes and Noble, my arms cradling my newest haul, with a coffee (this is probably where my caffeine obsession came from). Going into the bookstore makes me happy (new stories!), exhilarated (one day, my book will hopefully be here), intimidated (omg, one day my book will be here), and angry (really, Snooki published another novel).

8. I confuse characters and plot lines constantly. I have a voracious appetite for reading, but a terrible time keeping everything straight because I read everything too fast. I never finished Harry Potter because after I read the 5th book on a two-day bender, I couldn't remember what happened the next year when the 6th one came out. So I gave up.

9. Some books I simply cannot read in public because I will sob. Mostly, anything written by John Green, the end of a beloved series, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, anything about the Holocaust, etc.

10. As of right now, I do not have a library card. Instead, I prefer to spend obnoxious amounts of money buying books, when I have neither the funds nor the space. Books are kind of sacred to me, so it's hard for me to part with one after I've read it even if I'm not going to read it again (#5). I know, it's absolutely insane and completely cost ineffective. Now, I can say it's because I want to support the author, since I'll hopefully be in the same boat one day, but honestly, I just love having a lot of books.

Here's some research for my Future Unsuspecting Significant Other:


You give me a library, I'll marry you on the spot.

-E

Anybody else have any strange book quirks? Tell me I'm not alone! 

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Weekly Wrap 12/17

Monday 12/17 - Some wise (funny) words from Mr. King today:

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs." 

True story though. Adverbs can be the death of you when you're still learning. If I feel the need to use one, I normally stop and think, is this really necessary? I mean, just try saying "unceremoniously" out loud. If you stumble saying it, you can be sure as hell your reader will.

Spent the morning working through Momentum before Christmas shopping forced me out.

Tuesday 12/18 - No words of wisdom today. At my other office, also known as the bar I work at while on my break between shifts. Go through a chapter and half of Momentum. Getting close to finishing this slow read.

Wednesday 12/19 - A day of freedom!  Started out with some funny biz from J.D. Salinger:
"What really knocks me out about a book is that, when you're all done reading it, you wish that the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though." 

Yeah, most of my favorite authors I want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with. On a different note, I got through the climax of the story and I have to say, I think it's pretty good! Intense. I was surprised that my characters can still bring out that kind of emotion in me. I think it's a good thing.

Thursday 12/20 - Today's quote dealt with something I encounter a lot:

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy of creativity is self doubt." - Sylvia Plath

Today I finished up marking and thinking about where I want to edit. It's the first full read-through I've done since finishing writing it so it was interesting to go back over those places. Thoughts: it's good but needs some work in places.

I found in my workshops that when I revise, retyping what I've written is a pain in the ass, but necessary. It helps me get back in the flow of how I felt when I was writing it for the first time, and keeping the issues I have with the piece in mind, I'm able to smooth out the writing and expand. So I cleared off the chalkboard wall, made a giant list of the things I wanted to accomplish in the first chapter and got to work retyping. It sounds tedious, but really it's a good way to get my rhythm.

Friday 12/21 - Oh hey! The world didn't end. I celebrated by not doing anything writing related. In other unrelated, non-procrastination news (ha!), I got an iPhone. Bliss!

Saturday 12/22 - Today I was on the move, packing up my belongings to go and stay at my parents' house for the next couple days before Christmas. Their fridge actually has food in it. Unfortunately, that took up most of my morning, but I got together my materials so I can do some work at home.



Of course my printer crapped out after three chapters so I'll need to buy more ink before printing the rest of it.

Sunday 12/23 - Ah, home at last. I've got a sleepy dog, coffee, and a fire going. Time to get some work done. The first chapter sounds about finished. I'm pretty happy with it.






Monday, 17 December 2012

The Weekly Wrap

So I thought it might be interesting to catalog what I do each week as it pertains to writing. You might not be aware, but my time isn't always spent writing. There's editing, writing blog posts, networking, "feeding my muse" (also known as creative procrastination), brainstorming, etc. I spent a couple hours last week excited to organize a filing cabinet. It's a crazy life I lead.

I thought of this idea a little late, so I'm missing this past Sunday.

Monday 12/10 - I'm a bit of a weirdo and often cannot write at my desk. I don't know why. I like rituals though and preparation, so I've found that if I change when and where I work, I don't get bored. If I had all the money and time in the world, I'd be a total cliche writing in coffee shops. Something about the hustle and bustle of everyday life tends to cancel out my erratic thoughts, much like white noise, and it forces me to focus. So Monday, I'd gotten a small Starbucks gift card and spent two hours crammed into the corner, doing some revising on Momentum. I'm in the process of going through every chapter and marking what I don't like/what I want to change/plot holes. I got through two chapters that night.

Tuesday 12/11 - On my work days, I have to be industrious about my time. I couldn't sleep so I was able to get up at 7 and sit down to work. I've started creating positive habits for beginning to write and one is to update the chalkboard wall in my apartment with an inspirational quote. Today's dealt with revision and is from Truman Capote (author of In Cold Blood):

"I'm all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil."


It was a dark, cloudy morning which meant I was able to chug through two more chapters in Momentum very quickly.

Ah, 7 AM and my favorite coffee mug :)


Wednesday 12/12 - I was a slacker today. Spent most of the free afternoon sulking on the couch. That's important for writing too, right?!

Thursday 12/13 - I was on the move today! Wrote in the morning, at my parents' house, and while at the garage getting my car inspected. Unfortunately, I tend to get ideas when it's inconvenient for me to actually use them, so I scribbled some stuff down in a handy dandy notebook my girl Sara bought me because I'm a weirdo and have an obsession with pugs.

Yes, it says "Pugs & Kisses"


But I've got a couple posts planned so look for them in the near future! Also, wrote up the FAQ section of this website if you want to check it out. It's all the questions no one ever asks me.

Friday 12/14 - Today, I had planned on getting a lot of writing done. I got back from work and had the whole afternoon open, but as I made lunch, I turned on the TV and saw what happened in Connecticut. I was deeply saddened and horrified by the news of the shooting and I couldn't stop thinking about all the little children who now will never get to open those Christmas presents their parents had been squirreling away under the tree.

Saturday 12/15 - Did a little muse-stimulating today. Met with my entire family to go see The Hobbit in IMAX 3D at the children's museum downtown. I've been waiting for this for a really long time. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings hold a special place in my heart. The Hobbit is the first bedtime story I can remember my dad reading to us as kids. We still have the book too and it's just like I remember - hardback with a bright green cover. The film was amazing, so much so that I was dizzy half the time because I'm afraid of heights and the characters spend most of the movie poised on a precipice or about to fall off a cliff. Sure, Jackson pumped it up theatrically, but it was so much fun to be back in that world, to see the new sets, to meet the dwarves, and to see, finally, the Riddles in the Dark. It's by far the best part of the movie.

Sunday 12/16 - Today's words of wisdom came from Charlotte Bronte:



"I'm just going to write because I cannot help it."

I finished the Weekly Wrap, wrote up a bit for You Should, and got through three and a half chapters in Momentum. Feeling good about it today!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Chapter 14 - What's Next?

"So, Elle," you ask.  "What are you going to do now that you've written your novel?"

Well, do it again.  What did you think?

The manuscript I'm working on is actually the product of a very cool tradition that occurs every year.  I'd encourage young writers everywhere to get on board and become part of the celebration.

NaNoWriMo.  Or, National Novel Writing Month.

Hosted each November by the nonprofit Office of Letters and Light, NaNoWriMo is a creative effort where participants pledge to write a novel in a month (50,000 words).  There's a handy dandy website to get you started.  You'll get daily word count goals, graphs to show if you're on target, emails with pep talks to get you through, and an online community with forums ranging from plot tips and character development to music playlists for writing and procrastination stations.

It's a month long sprint to the finish.  50,000 words works out to 1,667 words per day or a little over three pages single spaced.  Last year, I cheated a little because I'd written the first chapter or two of Momentum in October, but I wrote the meat and potatoes of the plot during NaNo.  Someone turned me on to the program a week into November and I was side-tracked by Thanksgiving (the big get together holiday in my family) so I did not reach my goal of 50,000 words.  I wrote somewhere around 30,000 which ended up being nearly half of the book.  That's a pretty good stretch for one month!

NaNo is not about writing the best thing ever put on paper (though some manuscripts have gone on to do well); it's about sitting down and doing it.  It's about turning off your inner editor.  It's about creating an online community of young writers who want to cultivate their talents.  It's about connecting minds.

This year, I will be starting something completely new.  It's an idea that's been in my head for a while but I recently had the catalyst thought that made it come together.  Is my plot thought out and outlined? No.  Do I know where I want to end it?  Not at all.  But that is the beauty of NaNo.  You don't have to know.  You just have to start.

Now, writing that much in a month doesn't lend itself to works of art.  Momentum was a hot mess by the end of the month.  That's what the rest of the year is spent doing.  Revision, revision, revision.  But I like to use NaNo to learn to write fearlessly.  Write without a care in the world.  Write knowing there are others out there who are struggling with you and no matter what, don't give up.

That's not all I've got up my sleeve for this coming month.  I've been quiet on this because I've been busy elsewhere.  I am in the middle of Momentum's revision.  I've written first drafts of three new short stories for my writing classes.  They'll need to be revised this month too.  I'm flirting with the idea of going for my MFA in the next year.  I am picking out literary magazines I hope to submit stories to.

November will definitely be a busy month but I'm feeling very clear headed, as clear as I've felt in a long time.

One thing I've taken away from my classes with all my critiques, both good and bad, is that I am in the right place.  Now it is about making it happen.

-E

Monday, 24 September 2012

Chapter 13 - Announcement

I suppose it's unlucky to reveal good news with a number thirteen, but so be it!

So you know that novel I started working on last November?  The one I've been blogging about since I started this thing?  Momentum?  

Um, I finished it.

Cue confetti cannons and streamers!  

Granted, this is a first draft which means no one in the world is going to be allowed to read it (I have to give you my best, not my first go at it!), but for all intensive purposes, the book is written.  Right now it clocks in at about 70,000 words which in page terms, means about 275 pages.  Short, I know.  I wanted to get everything written first before going back to do a serious revision.  I'm sure it will expand as I already have ideas that I want to add to it.  

I'm really excited though and nervous.  This is different than the first manuscript I finished.  There was less of a defining moment where I typed the last sentence, sat back, and cracked my knuckles with a sigh.  This one has been a fight.  It's been like an exorcism trying to find my main character's voice and to give it the authenticity it needs, but I know I have something.  Now I need to fine tune and polish it so it will be presentable to the masses.  

It feels nice.  As a writer and an unpublished one at that, I felt a sense that I would only be able to do this once and when my first manuscript didn't explode like I wanted it to, I was discouraged.  I had to learn to take an idea I'd nursed in my mind for years and set it aside to become enamored with something else.  And to be honest, this feels better.  I can tell my writing is stronger, I was less attached to certain scenes or phrases, and more able to see my work objectively.  As a result, I have a more coherent story with characters who I feel are deeply layered and work with minds of their own.  They are complex and I hope the reader takes away something from each of them.  I want Momentum to be a novel that you finish, but have to take time to process later.  

At the same time, I am definitely scared.  Finishing means I am one step closer to putting this thing I've created out into the world and letting my audience do with it what they will.  They will form opinions, they will not like what I've said, and they will criticize.  However, one thing I am learning is that unless you are writing a journal, you aren't writing for yourself.  You have an audience in mind and at some point, you have to give them what they've waited for.  My writing classes are helping me overcome the anxiety I get when having someone else read my work.  We're all learning.  We all have something to offer and we are going to give each other good ideas and criticism.  You have to take the bad with the good.  You need fresh eyes to look at what you've done because you can't see the mistakes you're making or where you're being so dense, your reader cannot understand what is happening.  

When I told my parents, the first thing they asked was when do they get a copy.  Well, despite my excitement over finishing, this project is not done.  A first draft is only the beginning.  A first draft is throwing all the words you need down on paper.  It doesn't mean I have a packaged product ready for publication.  No one has read the whole thing.  I would be an idiot to try and publish without getting even one other person to give me input.  What it does mean is that I have my foundation.  What I wrote may not necessarily be what I intended, but this is what revising is for.  

My plan now?  

I want to go through and change all of the things I have been neglecting and add in the ideas I had along the way.  I need to cut out the parts that aren't finished at the end or that don't matter.  And I need to get fresh eyes on this thing.  Literary eyes.  I hope to get some connections in the English Department where I am taking classes.  Really, I want a mentor.  Someone to help guide and mold my work and someone who understands the message I am trying to convey.  And that's like dating.  You have to find the right partner.  Until then, I'll be on my own, putting my all into the manuscript and trying to create the best draft I can.

Then and only then, once I have something that I feel is worthy of publication, will I begin the querying process again.  Before, my problem was that I queried too early.  I was too eager and ready to see my name on a shelf in Barnes and Noble and what I had to bring to the table was not up to par.  I won't make that mistake again.  Querying takes research.  It takes time and clever writing.  I need to take what I've done and summarize it into something that people will want to read.  I need to figure out how I want to present it.  

So, in other words, I am far from done.  Writing the book is actually the easy part.  Turning it into something that people want to read (and getting an agent to feel the same way) is where the real work is.  

All that said, I feel really proud that I've completed my second novel (even if the first one is still sitting at my desk collecting dust).  

-E 

And I appreciate everyone's support and enthusiasm.  It's those people who ask me, "How is the book going?" that keep me motivated every day.  

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Chapter 12 - Updates

I promise, I am trying to get on a better blogging schedule.  I know I've been pretty sporadic here, but now that I'm actively working on improving my craft, I'll hopefully have more to say.  Some little words of wisdom here and there.  I want to aim for a post a week here.

Here's my most recent Barnes and Noble haul:


From top to bottom:
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - I started reading this last week.  My schedule's been pretty full, but I've been sucked into this thing.  Everyone on the blogosphere has raved about it and I see why.  So glad I started it.
Different Seasons by Stephen King - Confession time: I haven't read everything King's written.  Shocker, I know!  Until now I've had a strange aversion to short stories and novellas, but my writing classes have opened my eyes.  I'm also writing some short stuff now so I need to do my homework.  This one includes the inspiration for the Shawshank Redemption.  Can't be half bad.
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa - It's my first fey book!  I've heard about this series over and over so I thought I'd give it a try.  From what I read last night, I like.  The faeries so far aren't your typical winged creatures flinging glitter everywhere.  They have teeth, literally.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - Finally!  It came out in paper back and I bought it yesterday.  As much as I love a good hardback, they're expensive.  And I'm back in school paying for supplies.  Gotta be thrifty.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - I'll admit, I bought it because of the hype.  Everyone has been raving about it and it's at the top of the best sellers lists, so how bad could it be?  Plus Barnes and Noble had it for 40% off.

So what have I been doing all this time, you ask?

Well I went back to school!  That's what I did.  After much pushing and shoving and calling the registrar's office (because NC State has the most asinine advising system on the planet), I forced myself into two writing classes.

First I have Fiction Writing, which I love.  My professor (I don't know if it's appropriate to call him that because he's a MFA student at State and he's also probably only a couple years my senior and I feel weird calling someone who could be considered a peer Mr. So and So) is great.  He reminds me of one of my long time friends, if she were a dude.  He's a science fiction writer (yeah, I googled him and found his blog, whatevs) so I'll probably try to hunt down the stories he's had published.  The class is great.  Granted, I'm the oldest person there, but everyone is excited and ready to go.  They start talking about our readings and discuss them before class even starts.

Last week we finished our first drafts of our stories to workshop.  We have two due during the semester consisting of 2,000 to 10,000 words.  I've never written short stories before (aside from that pretentious allegory I tried to write in high school), so this is new territory for me to squeeze my ideas into that word range.  I think I did well on my first go around.  I wrote about two kids spying on their strange new neighbor.  My own neighbor was the inspiration.  Life imitates art, right?  My workshop group receives its critiques next Wednesday so I'm excited to see what the class's response is.

Second I have Creative Writing.  This class focuses on more forms: drama, poetry, and short stories.  Right now, we're smack in the middle of our poetry third.  My professor is another MFA student who specializes in poetry.  She's exactly what I would picture: soft spoken, well dressed but without make up, often wears only one earring, and she must have art class before she teaches us because she never wears her shoes and her toes are covered in either plaster or white paint.  This class has a different feel to it.  The students are quieter, less prone to blurting out their opinions, but now that we've begun critiquing each other's work, they are starting to become more animated.

It's a funny thing being back in school but not working toward a degree. For one, I feel old.  Most of my classmates are five years younger than me.  They can't buy alcohol and have really only just graduated high school.  They're concerned about Rush and football games and intro Biology exams.  They don't know what their majors are, but they have ideas.  I feel like a fish out of water sometimes.  I say things like, when I was in college, or my old college roommate, or when I was a senior.  I don't have an answer when they ask me what year I am or what my major is.  I don't have either.

But I see that bright-eyed ambition that I've been missing.  Out in the real world, it's an easy thing to lose.  Young minds like these are always clicking and turning, looking for new ways to make better grades, how they can update their resumes, what they can do over the summer to show they didn't waste their time.  They're busy and tired.  Each semester, their lives change with their classes.  They are surrounded by their friends, free from the watchful eyes of their parents for the first time.  They have the world at their fingertips.  It is refreshing to see that again.  It makes me want to move, to do more.  These are people who will stay up the night before, toiling until the task is done.  I've become lazy.  If I don't finish something by bedtime, I push it off until morning.  Not these people.

So in a way, I am different, but I am the same.  They are different, but they are the same.  We're all a little bit mad but we are all determined.





Friday, 31 August 2012

Chapter 11 - Write Without Fear

Again, I apologize for the long lapses between posts.  August has been filled with weddings and trips and classes and work.

Last time, I wrote about having writer's block.  And I am first to say: I was wrong (Hear that, Mom?).  Writer's block is another one of the convenient excuses I can hide behind like lack of time or inspiration.

It is fear.  Plain and simple.

Fear of ending.  Fear of not living up to the grandiose expectations that I have built up in my head for how I want my writing to be.  Fear of actually having to put this thing out into the world one day.  This is Step One.  Write it.  If I finish, it's been written, and if I have a first draft, soon I'll have a second and then people will be putting it in front of them and the judgments will come.

It is an old notion: if I don't try, I won't fail.  It is a cowardly move, for sure.  I am slowly learning to let my writing stand on its own two feet.  I can't cripple it from the get-go by never finishing.  Let me let you in on a little secret:

Everyone writes crappy first drafts.  Professionals and amateurs.  Everybody.  (And if there is someone who writes a perfect first draft, we don't talk to her anyway.)

The beauty of a first draft is no one else has to see it.  A first draft is a diary; a first draft is your dirty little secret.  You take your first draft and you mark the hell out of it.  You massacre it and the final product looks nothing like that awful piece of prose you put down.  If you're lucky, in the end, what you have is something that comes close to what you imagined in your mind.

Every writer wants to do a story justice.  But what about the characters? we moan and cry.  We aren't painting them in just the right light.  

So what?

Keep writing and it will come.  The important thing with a story is 1. starting and 2. having the courage to finish it.  I can pretty much guarantee that perfect little snippet you've written a thousand times in your head will not match up to what ends up on the paper.  The beauty is that with time and careful inspection of your work, the final product is exactly what it needs to be.

My advice?

Write.  Just write.  Don't comb over the details looking for out of place commas or even plot holes.  Put a bandaid on it and let that little bit of magic come.  Writing is something like channeling for me.  It's a groove, often like running.  You have to warm up and stretch.  You have to give yourself time to let your strides lengthen until you reach a sustainable pace.  Sure, it's painful.  You have moments where you feel like you are constantly running uphill.  You are battling to get the next word down, to find the right detail.  You have to remember no one else is watching.  If it's shit, toss it.  However, you may find that upon revision there are some good kernels in there you can tease out.

I am still guilty of these things, but I am learning to write without fear.  I had a moment the other morning while reading some of my Fiction Writing class's assigned essays and I thought, Good Lord, I am not this good.  I will never be this good.  I pulled up the manuscript and started looking at it, hating all the parts I'd once loved.

Then I made myself stop.  I'll never finish anything if I let myself be paralyzed by fear.  I may have to humble myself a little bit (I am not Hemingway and I am not Steinbeck; I don't aim to be), but that doesn't mean that what I'm doing doesn't have value.

Honor it.  Block out the negativity and let the words come.  Free write.  Associate.  Observe.  Ask questions of your characters.  Challenge them.  Make them grow.

As a young writer, it can be a lot to take in.  There are so many rules, but if you write a lot and you read a lot (the two most basic rules for becoming a successful writer), you will find that you already know a lot of them.  You see examples of what to do and what not to do every day in what you read.

Writing can be a lonely road.  You lay bare parts of yourself normally kept hidden and you offer them up to the world on a platter, asking for acceptance.  Many times, you won't get it.  But I believe with talent and perseverance, one day, it will come.

-E

And if you can't write, like they say at NaNoWriMo, just add ninjas! 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Chapter 10 - Writer's Block

Some say it's a myth.  Others write through it.  Mine has seasons, different phases like the moon.  I am currently in a waning phase.

I am almost done* with the first draft of Momentum.  Sara, my roommate of nearly 5 years, has moved out.  I've lost the boy.  I'm losing money.  I am fighting to be even considered for writing classes.

I have a lot of empty space and a lot of echoes to contend with right now.  Writing has been like bashing my head repeatedly against a wall.

Not the right tone.  Not the same magic vein I tapped into before.  Inspiration has been fleeting and I've grasped at the little wisps of it like I used to chase after lightning bugs as a kid.

It's also summer and the story's climax is...at odds with pool days and sunshine.  I have to get dark.  I have to walk in rainstorms (literally) just to feel the way I need to.  Thankfully, fall is coming!  In high school, my friends and I called it the Autumn Effect.  It is the casual winding down of summer, the installation of the school year routine.  Back to the grind.  The days grow shorter and the nights cooler. Suddenly, it's easier to be sad.  More acceptable.

I have finished a manuscript before.  It is sitting beside me right now gathering dust, waiting for the right time.  I remember the exact day I finished.  It was in April and I was hunched over solo at a table meant for two in those Starbucks they put in Barnes and Noble.  Apparently, books and coffee go together.  I remember typing the last sentence and I, appropriately, announced that little victorious word count on my Facebook status.  Fast forward two years and it doesn't matter much how my heart pounded in my chest, shooting my blood through with adrenaline (I had done it!  I finished something!).  Not much came from it.

Maybe that's what I'm afraid of, why I feel a brick wall when I try to finish.  I know where to go and slowly, I have figured out how to get there.  I just can't start moving.  I trip, sprint a hundred feet, back track, edit, stumble, and finally stop.

I am not giving up though.  I suppose that is growth.  My problem used to be I would never finish.  As soon as things got rocky, I would let whatever project I was working on putter out and instead go with the lightning strike of inspiration.  I'd answer the seductive call of the next best thing.

I am not done yet.  This story isn't done yet.  It is far from perfect and it deserves all of me.  So that is what I will give it.

-E

*'Done' is a relative term.  A first draft is always awful and while I have combed out the tangles of the first few chapters (when I really should be ignoring my inner editor and simply writing), the rest is, for lack of a better term, a hot mess.  Cheers!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Chapter 9 - What I Know


The late day sunlight sent little leaf shaped shadows across the wrinkles in the creek.  Her feet stood on the edge, dipping the toes in, and she watched the water pass silently.  The water here was magical somehow, some sort of soothing essence which always calmed her.  

She remembered summer mornings racing through the fresh cut wet grass barefoot to the creek where the rope swing hung from a high branch.  She thought of the tree bridge downstream where she was convinced for several months fairies had lived . Upstream was the "waterfall", as they had always called it, and farther up from that was the fort her father built between two trees.  

The creek held many memories, and she watched it flow down and away from her.  In her hands, she clasped delicate white flowers like gardenia whose petals she periodically plucked.  She would drop a petal into the stream and watch it glide on the surface of the water over unseen rocks and past exposed tree roots until it disappeared from sight.  Then she would drop another.  The sunlight twinkled in little pockets and she forlornly wondered if it would be the last time she ever saw this place again.

Normally, the sounds of splashing and laughing children filled the creek where the embankments hid them from the watchful eyes of their parents, but for now, she was alone.  A soft breeze rustled through the leaves overhead and the rope swing with the knot at its end waved back and forth like a cat’s tail. 

Her mother would be calling soon.  She was always calling her up from the creek, telling her to wash up in the mudroom, and for goodness sakes’, would you please put some shoes on.  But this time the calling would be different.  It would be to a car where they had packed all their things, all the things that made up their life crammed into a car, and they would leave the creek behind.  

It is an old adage - one argued and endorsed by many writers.  

Write what you know.  

Sometimes it is helpful.  A lot of my writing, whether I want it to or not, centers around my experience growing up in the South.  It's a flavor, a feeling, that certain magic of the first fireflies coming out at dusk while murmured voices from the porch carry across the yard.  

Also, it begs the question: how do sci-fi writers get anything done at all?  


Monday, 25 June 2012

Chapter 8 - The Devil's in the Details

Details, details, details. 

For me as a writer, it's a blessing.  Something can catch my eye and instantly, words start flowing in my head.  Inspiration sometimes strikes as a dinky trickle or a ragging river.  For me as a person and particularly as a girl, it can be frustrasting.  I'd like to use a personal story to illustrate this. 

I remember a lot about my (only) ex-boyfriend.  And yes, I believe first loves always stick with you, occupying a place in your heart you can never truly erase them from.  It doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Years later, I'm sure I could pass him on the street, we would acknowledge each other, and I would walk away knowing we are now strangers.  That's what happens when a broken heart heals; it bounces back strong and resilient, ready to throw itself headfirst into the next promising relationship. 

But when it's still mending, every single detail of a relationship can be agonizing.  As someone very concerned with details, I romanticized him.  Instead of remembering how he made me feel, I knew the small things and I cherished the stolen moments.  Even now, I could paint him like a picture.

He had sandy hair which grew long and curled right behind his ears and eyes the color of the ocean.  He had brown freckles in them too, more on one side than the other, always slightly off-balance, his symmetry just to the left.  When he was drunk, which was often, his slight lisp became more pronounced.  A childhood spent growing up at the beach and surfing made him tan and lean, almost like he'd been hardened by the waves.  On his chest where his ribs came together in the center, he had a little divet like an upside-down V and I remember sitting on my bed when we were breaking up, pressing my crying face into him and feeling my nose butt up against that spot I'd traced lovingly so many times before. 

Over the summer when he went home to his parents' and to work at the beach, I would visit on the weekends.  We'd drive around without shoes on with the windows down in his beat up green car, listening to songs with eight minute guitar solos and trying not to knock over the buckets of cleaning solution and chlorine tablets in the backseat.  When he was working his pool cleaning job, I'd tag along.  We'd visit beach houses and mansions and pretend we were as rich, jumping into hot tubs and pools of all shapes and sizes when no one was home.  I remember popcorn shrimp and french fries from a little shack on the beach road and the 4th of July where I sat cross-legged drawing circles in the sand with my back molded against him, watching fireworks explode over the water and shower the breaking waves in fantastic colors.  Red and blue and gold and green.    

When his father, the commercial pilot, suggested we take their four seater for a ride, he gave me his crooked smile and slipped into the front seat.  We'd been together for months and I never knew he had his pilot's license until then, but that was how he was.  Humble and surprising.  We flew low over the coastline all the way to Cape Hatteras, watching the cars and people scurry about their lives below us like ants.    

See?  It's very easy to look at the past and see it in shades of black and white.  After the ashes settle in the wake of a break up and the heart mends, you only remember the good times.  It's hard to gain perspective on what it was really like because all I can remember are the details. 

For relationships, it may not be the best habit I have.  For writing, this hypersensitivity can be a blessing.  The details and little moments are the vehicles I use to create an emotion, tell a story, or construct a scene.  In the editting process, I go back to what I've created and parse out the pieces that count, that really say something, but for the writing process as a whole, it helps give shape to what I'm trying to do.  It makes my story concrete and full. 

This may be a very roundabout way of saying "show, don't tell", but it's how my brain works when I'm writing.  Typically in a story, I know the beginning and the end.  I know the characters and maybe some of what happens in the middle, but fleshing out the rest of it is all about the details.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Chapter 7 - Please Don't Hate Me

This is going to be a live blogging experience...in which I quit my job. 

Oh boy.

I've solidified my new server position and will start training after work this month.  Now, my boss finally returned from his lengthy business trip and I am planning on giving my notice.  Last day?  June 1st. 

Right now, he's in a meeting and I'm sweating.  I know he isn't expecting this and truth be told, I have no grudge against Soul Crushing, Inc.  I've never given notice before though.  I mean, I've quit jobs but for obvious reasons like school or moving.  So this is new territory for me.

I also need to tell my manager.  Sorry, let me clarify.  I have a manager (whom I share an office with, how effed up is that?) and then we both have someone who oversees us.  I'm going to talk to Head Honcho first and then tell my Lady Boss. 

It's 9:47.  Head Honcho is in a meeting until 10.  I don't know why I get so anxious about confrontation!  I can feel my heart thumping and I can't keep my hands still (one of the reasons why I'm writing right now).  Also Lady Boss has been yapping on the phone with a friend since I came in this morning and it's really starting to grate on my nerves. 

9:54.  If she doesn't shut the fuck up, my head may explode.  Also, I have to pee. 

9:56.  Uh oh, she's about to get off the phone.  Going to hide in the bathroom. 

10:08.  Dammit!  She cornered me.  I'm 22!  I don't want to hear about your kids. 

10:13.  Trying to sneak away. 

10:14.  Okay, here goes!

10:33.  Whew.  I did it.  Still sweating, but I feel better.  Head Honcho was very understanding.  Lady Boss is back on the phone.  I'm waiting for her to get off it now so I can tell her.  It's like ripping off a Bandaid.  I'm on a roll, ready to get it done. 

11:02.  And it's done!  Well, Lady Boss took it surprisingly well. 

I feel relieved, honestly.  I think I'll have a little freak out when I have all this free time on my hands now, but I really am looking forward to sitting down and giving my writing everything I have.  It's time to focus on what I want.  For once. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Chapter 6 - Motivations

I want to talk about motivation today.  First,

My plan has been set in motion and amounts to this:
1.  Leave job at Soul Crushing, Inc. (and write).
2.  Start waitressing (and write).
3.  Move into a more affordable apartment (and write).
4.  Begin Creative Writing courses at a local university in the fall (and write).

As to #1, my parents are not very happy with me and while I understand, I respectfully disagree.  I have done everything practical and "right" in my life.  I've also done it in the correct order.  I graduated high school in the top of my class, went to one of the best public universities in the country, chose two majors and stuck to being pre-med, I didn't get arrested (just one drinking ticket, but come on - we like to pretend we're a dry university and that's laughable), I didn't get pregnant, I graduated in four years without amassing loads of debt, and I landed your typical office 9 to 5 after graduating.  I became financially independent.

What I'm saying is I did all the right things and you know what?  I'm unhappy because what I want isn't practical.  Sure, if I ever get published and make a living doing what I love, then all of this will seem like a bad dream, but I don't have a crystal ball.  My parents, I think, probably once had the same ambition and head-in-the-clouds kind of attitude that I do.  Call me crazy, say I'm regressing to childhood fantasy, but I am unwilling to give that up.  I pledge to always be curious about the world.  I do not ever want to lose the magic I see in day to day life.  I refuse to.

When I told my father, he sat back in his chair and did his sideways disapproving head-shake, keeping his eyes away from mine, and almost laughing, said, "My daughter, the waitress."  Like it was a slur.  Like I was slumming it to go back to where I've come from.  It would have made any other person angry.

For me, it lights a fire under my ass.  My entire life I've felt that I have to fight for what I want.  I told them I was going to college.  I told them I was going to be pre-med.  I told them I was going to Spain.  I told them I was going to run a marathon.

I did all those things.  So I know when I tell them that I'm going to be a writer, one day through hard work and dedication I will be a writer.  It may not be soon and I'm sure as hell it won't come easy, but it will happen.  My best motivation has always been someone telling me I can't do something.  So I will take the little head shakes and that twitch at the corner of everyone's mouths when I tell them I'm quitting my job to write a book and I'll pocket it for later when I'm bogged down in the middle of it, wondering why the hell I wanted to get myself into this business.

Second, I thought I'd share some of the motivations behind Momentum (current word count: 57, 607 - I know I've been slacking).  Although it isn't happening yet because no one really gives a shit what I have to say at the moment (but that will change, world! *shakes fist*), I know eventually someone will ask me where I get my ideas.

The idea for this story came from several different experiences.  One of the scariest books I ever read was Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  I had nightmares for years after, not about the act of killing someone, but the guilt and paranoia that follow it.  Then, one night my junior year of college, I was leaving the library at 2 am, in a caffeine-and-Adderall-incuded haze and I passed by some of the frat houses on campus.  They sit in two semi-circles, Frat Court where there are 5 houses, and the aptly named Little Frat Court where there are 3.  As I cruised by Little Frat Court, I saw that the courtyard they all face was lit up in blue lights.  They were having a party.

And that was that.  The blue skinned girl came directly from that.

I also found a feeling I wanted to capture.  I believe you can bare the most intimate parts of yourself with writing.  It is a vulnerable task by nature and I wanted to explore a feeling I've felt often during my life.  Not to go all emo on your ass, but there is something very lonely and alienating about watching a party go on without you.  I've written about it before (not here), but it's like standing outside on the street and watching that warm happy glow come through a window you aren't allowed through.  JR, the main character in Momentum, spends a lot of time glimpsing things through windows.  I want the reader to feel that sort of alienation with him, the want to join in on that life you've only seen in flashes before, but somehow you can't find a way inside.

Hopefully, I can articulate all the things I want in this book without bashing the reader over the head with it.  If I can, I think this thing may be halfway decent.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Chapter 5 - A Year in Reflection

A Year in Reflection

While at work today, I’ve been distracted by blog postings and tweets and facebook chatter. Jimmy Fallon is filming his late night show today featuring Obama at my alma mater and it’s making me a bit of a sob story. Gasp!

This isn’t something new for me though; nostalgia hits me nearly every change of season and I reflect back and wish and want and learn. It’s good to be self-assured and aware. I think you have to look back to gain perspective on your life. This time last year, I was scrambling to graduate. Finals, LDOC, long nights at the library, bad food, energy drinks. I did it 8 semesters in a row, not counting my summer sessions. Now, however, I find myself missing it.

Do I miss the annual library streaking the night before the first exam? Yes. Do I miss the flash rave in the Pit organized by one of my friends? Yes. Do I miss the way the light falls across those brick sidewalks and across the tops of the buildings nestled between the trees at 7 am when I’m trudging back to the library after leaving at 2, backpack laden with supplies to keep me going for another marathon study session? Yes, actually.

I miss the pressure, the sense of urgency, the momentum pushing at my back (see what I did there?). I’m starting to believe this is what my job is lacking. I like the unpredictability of hours -long study sessions into the night. I like watching the deadline creep up on me as my Adderall-addled brain starts cranking out more and more words in a last ditch effort to finish a paper on time. Honestly, it’s when I have some monster of responsibility (a class I must pass, a test in the morning, a paper due at midnight) breathing down the back of my neck that I discover a font of untapped resolve deep down inside.

I don’t necessarily want to go back to school, but I hate the day to day monotony of post graduate life. I’m not being pushed is what I’m saying. Sure, I can push myself but there are only so many days when it is dark and rainy in the morning that I have the energy and dedication to convince myself to get out of bed and go perform. My job doesn’t offer me any deadlines or bosses waiting by my office door with open expectant hands. Instead, it’s like working at the library for 8 hours a day and constantly being granted an extension. It’s the same spot in front of the same window with the same people and the same food and bad coffee and distractions.

I often find I tire of workspace very quickly. Sometimes just moving my laptop to another place rectifies the need I feel to be constantly moving. The problem is I can’t do that here. It is the same – day in and day out. I can’t go lay on the quad. I can’t set up in my bathroom (done that) or sprawl my notes across the couch. I can’t sit in the rocking chairs in front of the Student Stores overlooking South Road. I can’t even visit an old yet cherished workspace in the libraries I spent a majority of my time in school.

It’s a small reflection of the larger wanderlust that creeps up on me every so often, whispering in my ear no sort of solution but simply pointing out that I need to be doing something different, something strange or off the wall or better. It’s a gift and a curse because it allows me to constantly dream, but it also is a thirst I can’t slake and I know somewhere, sometime, it will come back, as insistent and pulling as ever.

My curiosity with the world is a near constant itch I can’t scratch and is part of the reason I know deep down in my heart, deep down in the place where my soul resides, that I need to be doing something creative. I need to. It’s something I can’t help, deny, or control. It’s something I can ignore only for so long before it bubbles up in me, angry for being kept at bay for so long.

Insurgent Giveaway!

Desperately trying to win SOMETHING! I won a thousand dollars in cash once. This would be so much more awesome! http://www.divergentlexicon.com/news/insurgent-is-8-days-away-were-giving-away-an-arc#comment-1028

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Also...

Momentum current word count: 47,526

Over the halfway hump!

Also, 90K is just what I'm shooting for. I'm not necessarily saying the manuscript will be finished at 90K or that I'll finish before and have to stretch.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Chapter 4 - Sex Alliance Against Society

Sex Alliance Against Society

I read King Dork* recently and a passage in the novel got me thinking. The main character, an adolescent boy, muses about what it means to have a girlfriend in high school. To him, it seems to be lots of making out and bjs in cars. A girlfriend is someone who stands by your side as armor, who stands shoulder to shoulder with you in a Sex Alliance Against Society – Society being asshole bullies in high school.

In all honesty, I don’t know much of what happens in relationships my own age behind closed doors. I mean, I know what happens behind closed doors – I lived with 4 girls in “committed” relationships in college, trust me – but I don’t really know what happens. You go to tailgates together and get mad at each other when you’re drunk. You always have dates to weddings, no matter how awkward it might be. Sometimes when you have money, you take trips. Concerts. Bad food. Lots of Going Places and Doing Things. But beyond that and basic pillow talk, your general Sex Alliance Against Society is like Clue and I thought it was the lead pipe but instead it was Miss Scarlet in the Billiard Room with the wrench.

What I’m saying is my understanding of relationships is elementary and limited. I have one “real” relationship to speak of (I’m not counting high school) and I say “real” with quotes because it was my freshman year of college and there’s only so much you can put into a relationship when you’re 19 and don’t want to piss anyone off.

1. What happens after you get settled or past the honeymoon period (arbitrarily agreed to be the 6 month mark)? I never made it past the honeymoon period in college where everything is daisies and I look back through rose-colored glasses to days filled with lying in the sun on the quad, drowsing. Seriously, I did that. As to my other romantic endeavors, the three week mark has always been the point of no return where whatever spark it was snap, crackles, and pops and suddenly, I can’t stand the way he chews his food or he stops calling.

2. How do you fight with a SO? I’m using this freshman year romance as a meter stick. We never fought. Once. Like, not at all. I don’t know if it was because I was afraid of rocking the boat or we really didn’t have anything to fight about or that sleeping with someone creates some sort of anti-fighting hormone that affected both of us, but we never did. In fact, the only time I remember a fight was at the end of the relationship. I sensed distance, realized distance was not in my head, confronted him about distance, and then it was over. Fin. So in my tiny brain, a fight is equated to the end of the relationship. Or like a big blow out, one ingrained in my poor head by that scene in the Parent Trap - the remake - where that lady who died tells Dennis Quaid she threw a hairdryer or a shoe at him and then took one daughter (seriously, how effed up was that? Oh yeah, they're totes equal human beings. Let's split them like you would split a chocolate bar) and moved across the Atlantic. It all seems like fun and games in the movies, but in real life, a fight with whoever my SO may be seems like a giant cliff to leap off of back into Singledom.

3. Social media ruins me. Damn you, Mark Zuckerberg! Back then, Facebook was around but not as prevalent or I was so gob smacked and in lurv that I didn’t notice. There are so many questions and pressures from people I don’t even know to define my not-a-relationship in a public forum from the beginning that it boggles the mind. When is the appropriate time to become Facebook Official? Do I have to? Will stupid girls at the club stop giving me the evil eye that I’m with him if he makes some grand proclamation? Why do I keep looking at the old profile pictures of him and his ex-girlfriend even though I know it makes me mad? Why did I have to be born into the era of Facebook? Seriously, if your man is tech savy (which thank God mine is not, because I already have enough internet-related distractions at work), there are infinite ways to cyberstalk and obsess. Why are guys surprised when we're jealous then? We have access to all your old photos, your EX's interests and disinterests, and twitter pages and pinterest boards and tumblrs and blogs and omg my head is going to explode.

4. I don't know balance. At all. For instance, I spent one semester watching and/or DVRing the entirety of Law and Order: SVU (ILY Stabler!) but pretty soon, I would hear that little dun dun and have to change channels. What I'm saying is that be it a TV show, a hobby, a new friend, a book series, a whatever, if I like it, I throw myself at it and hope it sticks around for a while. I go through phases of liking and disliking things and I'm not sure if my One College Relationship ever made it past the I Love This phase that I go through with every New Thing. I simply don't know how to tell the difference between something intense and fleeting and something intense and longlasting. It's like flavored gum. I can only chew it for so long before it stops tasting like deliciousness and starts hurting my jaw. So I spit it out and move on to the next piece. Sorry, this is supposed to be a metaphor but it's turning into a giant ramble.

5. Along the lines of my above point, I don't do coy for very long. My bag of tricks is exceedingly shallow. Also I am incredibly impatient, unable to wait a couple of weeks down the road to pull out all the stops. I want to be extravagant and unforgettable from the beginning! I will change your life! You will always look back at me as that redhead that you blew your mind! It's self-centered, I know, but I think deep down inside, you always want to be the one that rocked his/her world the best. The problem is it's exhausting and you can't maintain that kind of awesomeness forever. At some point, you will be sitting on the couch in your sweatpants with your hair in a rat's nest above your head, crying watching an episode of the Biggest Loser, eating ice cream**. And someone will see that eventually. I don't know if there's enough mindblowing sex or deep conversations in the world to keep someone coming back for more after witnessing something like that.

I guess what I'm saying is I have doubts about a Sex Alliance Against Society because I really don't know what the alliance part means. It's new territory for me. But I guess years of Disney movies and rom-coms have conditioned me to hope against all hope that whatever the alliance is, it will stand strong against Society - be it asshole bullies in high school or dumb bitches giving me the evil eye at the club.

*Great book by Frank Portman. Go read it. In no way do I tend to plagiarize your idea about a SAAS.
**I've totally never done that...at least, not all three at the same time. There may come a day.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Chapter 3 - Adventures in Procrastination

I mean, this is getting a little ridiculous.

Somehow I’ve managed to paralyze not only my writing but also my “career”. Since making the decision to check out from Soul Crushing, Inc in the near future, I have mentally checked out on anything involving me doing actual work. Here’s a list of things I’ve done this week.

1. Tweeted videos, blogs, articles. I also followed a bunch of people so I don’t have to wait for my feed to update.
2. Blogged…once. (This counts as twice I suppose.)
3. Obsessively facebook stalked my kind-of boyfriend. (It’s that TOM. Biology says I have to.)
4. Started reading another Sarah Dessen novel while blow drying my hair. (I feel the need to always be multitasking. If I could hold a book and put on mascara at the same time, I would do it. Someone needs to invent that. Get on it, dreamers!)
5. Twirled my hair at my desk.
6. Googled dating advice websites and read every single goddamn article I can find on what it means to be exclusive but not necessarily in a relationship. (It’s that TOM. Biology says I have to.)
7. Made grocery lists, To Do lists, written down bills I need to pay. (I haven’t actually DONE any of the things I’ve written down, just planned to.)
8. Watched So You Think You Can Dance videos on YouTube and that one recently popular one floating around about an old guy in a nursing home hearing music he grew up with. Almost burst into tears when he started singing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. (It’s that TOM. Biology says I have to.)
9. Pretended to do work by frantically flipping between windows whenever my boss walks by. Did I mention we share an office? (This is one reason I can get away with blogging or writing. My typing sounds like I’m making progress on something I’m being paid for. Whoops!) 10. Thought about resurrecting my Tumblr but decided against it.

Things I need to do that I haven’t actually done much of this week?

1. Work.
2. Writing. I squeezed a thousand words out of the stone on Monday night, but since then, the 10 things above have kept me occupied.

There should be a study that looks at work productivity before and after the advent of Facebook. The business world must rue the day Mark Zuckerberg was born.