Mar 29, 2012

Success or Failure

The things I need to write are: a quiet room with a closed door, a large screen Mac, and small keyboard on my desk. The desk faces the wall and curtains stay closed to shut out the real world. A white noise machine sits close by on the desk in case I need to mask any distractions. Some days my tinnitus screeches louder than usual. Other days (which have become every day), the annoying chirps from hundreds of sparrows nesting in the evergreens outside my window keep me from writing. However, with the push of a button, I can mask it all.

On some mornings the words come out faster than others. After three cups of coffee and a fourth in hand, I enter the story through the screen and stay there, my fingers being the only link between their world and mine. Sentences become pages as I share the great cast of characters who live with me there. I know them well and want to keep us together for as long as possible. My main character fascinates me, speaks to me, and together we set up her story. What if "X" happened? If "X" happened, then what if "X" happened. Over and over, I write the "X's," with her leading the way.

Often, I feel nervous, alone in the room with these new people, worried that I won't be able to tell their story. I sit at my desk and stare at the screen. It looks blurry and too big. Maybe I need glasses. My detachment from the story feels real, and I wonder if my characters have moved on. Have I taken up too much of their time? Has she waved goodbye for good - exited stage left? I hear the sparrows and the ringing in my right ear over the mechanical sounds of ocean waves. The 'ping' of a new text alert sounds from my iPhone in the bedroom.

I turn the noise machine off, and stand up, pulling the curtains apart. The morning opens up to me in a watercolored frame. The gray sky and rain keep me from running outdoors. I glance toward the front yard and see more green poking up from the ground. I can't forget to get mulch from Lowe's before the spring bulbs flower. I close the curtains and sit back down. For a time, I sit with my hands in my lap, looking around the small room. Many piles of books have taken over the space. Too many books for the small corner bookshelf. I begin thumbing through Beloved, a favorite read by Toni Morrison. I wonder if one day my characters will have their special world displayed on many pages between two hard covers. I feel a chill and put the book down.

I reach for my cardagin sweater, another necessity when the air cools and the coffee cup sits empty. Do I keep writing or call it quits? Should I go pour another cup of Starbucks? There are consequences to whatever I decide. If I walk out, will I return again tomorrow morning? Will she speak to me if I leave her now? I hear the text reminder again and swivel my chair toward the closed door. It could be Trini or Julie wanting to do lunch. If they said to meet at noon at Barbacoa, I'd be out of here in a flash. What if there was some news from Diane or Amanda. Possibly something needing my immediate attention. What if "X" happened? I think about my story and am torn between the two worlds. I want them both, and I want to run from them both. I look over my shoulder. The small clock on the computer reads 9:52 a.m. I turn back and realize, with the push of a button I can mask it all. The realization is both exhilarating and terrifying.

Mar 28, 2012

The Passive Voice

Writers know that using the passive voice can hurt writing. It might prevent the reader from gaining a clear understanding of the work. I eliminate the passive voice in my writing whenever possible, but not always. I notice my tendency to over use the passive voice. It takes a lot of focus and concentration to stop writing this way. I can't even begin to think of how many times I have used the passive voice without being unaware of it. Good writers need to kill the passive voice.

What is the passive voice? Any form of "to be." For example: Is, Are, Am, Was, Were, Has been, Have been, Will be, Will have been, Being, Been.

For example, instead of saying: "He was afraid," one should write "He feared," or better yet, "He trembled."

I have been struggling (there is is again - that passive voice!) during the past few weeks with the need to correct and edit my writing as I go. I keep reminding myself that it's not the end of the world (even though it is 2012), it's just that I want to get the story and the words exactly right, right away. It sure slows me down and makes it difficult to get the story out. Some mornings I would like to be a rebel and write only using the passive voice, using tons of adjectives and adverbs. Ha ha. 

When I was quickly eating my breakfast cereal, I laughed hysterically until I was foaming from my lovely mouth. I was silently thinking about all of the times I had turned in completely awful writing, thinking it was incredibly good. I have been fooling myself all along, thinking I was an amazingly talented writer. Turns out, I have been sorely wrong and am deeply crushed. 


There. Got that out of the way. Off to write.

Mar 27, 2012


Fred, our sponsored child from Africa (African New Life Ministries), wearing a ScribbleDrips shirt.

Where is ScribbleDrips now?

Many of you know that in 2007 we opened ScribbleDrips, a small t-shirt and hat business. My daughter drew all the ScribbleDrips designs, and we sold them throughout the United States. Unfortunately, our doors closed some time later with the difficult economic struggles. ScribbleDrips however, is still very much alive today, dancing on t-shirts around the globe.

My recent desire to find more meaning in life brought me to a local homeless shelter. I volunteer weekly, playing with the children while their mothers get some much needed personal time. It's hard enough being married with children, or single with children. But homeless with little ones? Wow.

I treasure the time with these children and getting to know their mothers. I also decided that ScribbleDrips t-shirts would be a welcoming treat for many of these little ones. In the weeks and months to come, I hope to be giving away many more of our unsold ScribbleDrips t-shirts to the homeless children. A small way to brighten a day. We can always chose to give even when the stock market doesn't.

Until tomorrow and back to scribbling out my story...

Mar 26, 2012

First Blog: Now What?

Quick introduction: female, married, homemaker, and soon to be forty 42 years old, living in Idaho (Go Boise State!). I have three almost grown children. Just call me 'mom,' soon to be 'empty nester.' I don't clip coupons, haven't gone back to work, and hate to cook (but will). I enjoy gardening, flowers - not veggies and admit to using Facebook at least once a week (but only to keep in touch with family). The musings of a housewife will not be covered here. You'll need to find another blog for that. Time to begin a journey to find the me I never fully developed. What a scary, thrilling and much needed decision - to tackle myself head-on!

Where will the rest of my journey take me? I shudder at the thought, because I really don't know. For starters, let's just say, I don't start small. My first goal: write a novel. Ouch. After I finish the book, my next goal: get it published. Go on Oprah. Make the Bestseller List. Why couldn't I start out with something small, like letter writing. How about keeping in better touch with friends and family through email? Armed with an associates degree, a small office crammed with lead pencils, books and a Mac computer (thanks, Steve), a new birth awaits. The birth of my literary self. 

Good news: I have completed my novel outline (no easy task) and read several books, including, "Writing the Breakout Novel." A link is at the bottom of the page if you are interested.

Last time I saved my novel's first draft: page thirty-two. Only a thousand plus more words to write! I may not make all of my goals, but then again, anything is possible.

My motto: Go for BIG, take a DEEP breath, and JUMP. But, have some kind of a plan before you take off. You might end up changing directions, but at least you did some initial planning first.

Hope you join me as I blog my way through 2012!