Book Reviews, Books, Doubt, Movies, Opinion, Reader, Real Life, Time, Writing

Hell is being sick … and not being able to read!

By a strange coincidence, a virus felled me the day after I saw the movie Contagion. That was bad enough, but the topper was that for a couple days, I was too sick to even read. You can only sleep so much, and with my need for glasses, it’s not easy watching television lying down. And writing—even to just think the words—fuhgeddaboutit!

So, as much as I hate the word bored, I have to say I was. I kept thinking about that Twilight Zone episode where the man who wants only to be left alone with his books, gets his wish, but then isn’t able to read because he breaks his glasses. Hell, indeed. Today, I’m about 90% back to normal.

When I could read again, I finished The Help, which I’d started before I got sick, and read a little more of another one, Joy for Beginners, which I’d started over a month ago, but set aside.

For the record, I loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I mentioned in a previous post. I was astounded to learn the degree to which one woman’s cells have been instrumental in worldwide medical and biological research for over fifty years. My only reserve is discomfort over the way the author chose to portray Henrietta’s family.

I also loved The Help. It’s been a long time since I read a book of that length so quickly. I hope to see the movie soon, though I’ve heard it’s not as good as the book. Typical. I try not to read reviews before I read a book, so afterward I was surprised to read negative remarks written as though the reader expected The Help to be more history than fiction.

Despite what the cover says, Joy for Beginners is not constructed as a traditional novel, and eventually I found it less frustrating to read it as a collection of connected short stories. The writing is pretty. The reason I’m taking so long to finish the book is that I don’t care enough about the characters.

As for Contagion, it was a disappointment. The acting was good, the story premise good, the execution of that premise, not good. It started out well, developed a bit, but then waned, and finally, fizzled out. Gee. I seem to be doing nothing but blogging reviews lately, or rather opinions—which is exactly how you should view them.

I don’t really have much to say about writing because I’m sort of stumbling around again. This is a list of the writing problems I encountered this month:

  1. I kept changing my mind on which book to work on first. (Solved … I think.)
  2. I lost sight of writing for myself and started wondering what readers would think.
  3. I started worrying about who I’ll get to beta read and how I can pay an editor.

In short, I’ve been fussing and fighting with writing, but not doing much of it. I have one more novel to read, and then I’m hanging up my library card for a while, so I can do what I’m supposed to do. Write. Right?

Blog Stuff, Real Life, Time, Writing

Silly things I do to waste writing time

My husband has dubbed me a chief procrastinator. What he doesn’t know is that sometimes I only seem to be putting off something. Sometimes I’m working out some aspect of the job before I start it. Sometimes I dread it so much, I need to sidle into it so I’ve begun before I realize I’m doing it.

And yes, sometimes, I’m just putting it off. For weeks, I’ve been saying I need to get down to serious work on my next novel, and yet here I am saying it again. I do have legitimate Real Life distractions. And I’m still working out some plot points in the back of my mind, so maybe not all is lost. Still, in part, I’m just wasting time. I find myself making lists. Most of these are to-do lists, which I know, even as I make some of them, I may never look at again.

But I’m capable of making even more useless lists. Consider the following one. I use a stats program that records the location of visitors to this blog. A ridiculous number of countries worldwide have shown up there. Closer to home, I’ve had visitors from every one of The United States of America. By cross-matching by time, I can track where those who leave comments live. Naturally, the info led to a list showing which state has interacted most with me.

  1. California (36 distinct visitors left comments)
  2. Illinois and Texas (tied at 13)
  3. Oregon (12)
  4. Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania (tied at 11)

Other “research” shows I’ve had visitors from the following states, but none of them left a comment: Alabama, District of Columbia, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont. Are readers from those states just less chatty?

“What about other English speaking countries?” I ask myself. Turns out, visitors from all over Canada have left comments—except those who came from Newfoundland and Saskatchewan. From the UK, I’ve exchanged comments with visitors from numerous cities in England, a couple in Wales, but not a one in Ireland or Scotland.

Does any of this knowledge matter a whit? Of course, not! Will I tailor my posts to appeal more to those in Montana, Iowa, Newfoundland, or Saskatchewan? Nope. I’m just wasting time.

Now, about those games on Facebook …

Your turn: Do you ever waste writing time? If so, how?

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Life, Musings, Reflections, Time, Writing

Fitting the Pieces Together

After my father’s sudden death four years ago, my mother spent nearly every waking moment working jigsaw puzzles. For more than a year, she sat sorting, moving, fitting piece after piece to create the final picture. Hour upon hour. Like a Buddhist monk creating a sand mandala. As soon as she fit the last piece in one puzzle, she tore it apart and reached for another.

Her life was in chaos. She created order out of a thousand one-inch pieces because she could not, was not ready to create a new order in her life. As her hands worked, her mind let go. As much as possible, she ignored the present, even listening to WWII music, the music of her youth, the music she danced and sang to before my father entered her life.

Gradually, her puzzle obsession waned. My father was gone. She was not. Life would go on.

The death of a loved one is surely the most severe disruption of our lives, but no matter what has knocked us off kilter it takes time and patience to get back on track. We have to sort out what went wrong and then, piece by piece, form a new picture.

Time and patience. I need them both.

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Update: After a couple comments, I see this post has caused some unintended concern. I am all right.

Fiction, Imagination, Inspiration, Reflections, Time, Writing

What is this thing we call writing?

Since I don’t watch a lot of TV, I missed the debut season of the series LOST, even though two of my sons had independently mentioned they thought I would like the show. So, right before the second season started, I loaded up our Netflix list and my husband and I watched the whole season in a week … or was it a weekend. Whatever. The experience was intense.

In case you don’t know what LOST is about, it’s the story of a mysterious island that, seemingly, is under control of the forces of good and evil. These forces control the lives of certain people, at least to some degree, and eventually bring them to the island. This series focuses on the survivors of a plane that crashed on the island.

WARNING! Possible spoiler alert in the next paragraph:

This final season seems to be showing us that these “survivors” are leading lives in two dimensions: they crashed; they didn’t crash. Of course, this is an examination of the nature of time and existence, which is something I consider daily. And naturally, I like to consider it in the light of writing.

What is the nature of The Muse? What exactly is this state we call creativity? Do we truly “make up” our stories or do we channel some alternate reality, or past life, or even future life, if you consider time a man-made convention. Are we simply recording the collective unconscious?

Your thoughts?

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Humor, Musings, Time, Writing

Free prose day!

Today’s post doesn’t really have much to do with writing, though I’m calling it free prose. That’s not the same as stream of consciousness; I would never subject you to that.

Juan, Henry, and Margaret

I grow roses … well, for the most part this last year, I neglected roses, but still they bloomed. Yesterday I cut a few. I don’t usually do that this late in the season because I like to let them go dormant for a couple months, but roses that bloom in cool weather have the sweetest fragrance, and I needed a lift.

In the bouquet pictured, I have Don Juan (red), Henry Fonda (yellow) and Margaret Merrill (white) and though the yellow doesn’t usually have much scent, and the red much less than the white, they’re all scenting the room as I write.

My work station?

I have not done so well on my NaHoCleMo challenge. The reward of a spotless house, including cupboards, closets, and drawers, is not enough to goad me into the nearly three hours of daily work I need to keep on goal. Actually, it’s not so much the cleaning that gets me down, it’s the deciding. I don’t know what to do with piles of stuff when I pull it out of those cupboards, closets, and drawers.

I like to blame it on being born under the sun sign of Libra … you know, being able to see all sides and trying to be fair in my judgment. Should I keep this? Should I give it away? Should I toss it? It’s that inability to decide that clutters my house in the first place. That, and my mother cleaning my childhood bedroom and throwing away all my little “collections” which she apparently mistook for trash. I’ve battled with keeping MY STUFF ever since. Ah, well …

In what sense are we lost?

I know this question is “out there” but is it possible that time is speeding up? I’ve been thinking that it’s only because I’m getting older. And cruel joke that—the less time you have left the faster it’s used up! But I’ve heard people far younger than I make the same observation.

Of course, with that in mind, we could veer off into questioning what time is, which would make my head spin, so let’s don’t. Although … that does remind me of the show LOST and how I so wish I could figure it out before they reveal it all this next season.

All right, I’ve blathered long enough, but at least free prose is … well … free.