Friday, November 30, 2007

Confessions of an Addict

This will be my last post.

Well, for the weekend anyway. In order not to burn myself out and overextend, I'll only be blogging on weekdays for now. I'm sad that The Great Tea Debacle is ending, but I shall keep the friendships I have made and there is still another book to write. And there are other things to occupy my time when I'm not writing.

I have a confession to make. I love TV. Heresy! How can this be? Shouldn't all writers spend every waking moment elevating themselves to a higher state of learning, pursuing art and music and nobler activities? I can't help that. I love TV.

It gets worse. I am addicted to Reality TV. Stop clutching your chest like that and rolling your eyes! It isn't dreck or if it is, I just don't care. I find it fascinating and I'll give you five reasons I find it so compelling.

Reason 1: I'm in love with the creative process. What does that have to do with Reality TV? My favorite shows are things like Project Runway and Top Chef. A group of talented professionals in their field compete. Each week they are given a specific challenge and someone goes home based on their performances. It's like Survivor, but with talent. I'm fascinated by seeing how the designers and chefs approach their craft, how they view themselves, how they interact with others in their field. I love seeing them take a project from mere idea to fruition. Some are all concept, but lack the ability to deliver. Some have mad skillz at executing, but lack an original vision. Then there is the artist who conceives of unique twist and produces something fresh and exciting.

Too bad there will never be a show titled PROJECT TOP WRITER. Writing is the same, but different. No one wants to watch a writer. The drama is all there, but it's internal. Project Runway shows them running with scissors. Top Chef features flames endangering the contestants' eyebrows. Writing…well, it fries your brains, but it isn't terribly exciting to watch. It's a shame, because I'm probably one of five people who would watch a show about writers.

Reason 2: People are more interesting than characters. Reality TV isn't all about backstabbing and sleeping around and stupidity anymore than SFF is about aliens and laser guns. Sure, such things exist and are a staple of the genre, but that isn't what it is about. It is about people and how they relate to one another and cope with different situations. The best show for this is The Amazing Race.

In TAR, teams of two race around the world for one million dollars. They have challenges to meet and must arrive at designated checkpoints. At each leg, the last team to check in is eliminated. The journey is always far more stressful and physical than the teams expect and the glimpses into the relationships captivate me (as does the backdrop of the world). Who knew that the earthy, crunchy granola team would come so unglued at the idea of milking a camel? Who knew that the glam rockers with big hair, pink spandex and full make-up would fall deeply in love with the people of Africa and commit themselves to helping the children there? Fascinating.

Reason 3: I learn stuff. Dirty Jobs isn't just about watching Mike Rowe's hairy chest. Okay, sometimes it is, but it's also a glimpse into how things truly work in the world, jobs I never knew existed. And it sure makes my desk job much more appealing. He shows you what it means to do the sort of work that makes our comfortable lives possible. Love science? Always wondered if your cell phone could really spark and blow up your car at a gas station? Mythbusters is the show for you. Who could watch Les Stroud in Survivorman and not come away with the realization that most of us would be dead the first afternoon? But I'm amazed to watch Stroud survive for seven days and even more impressed that he is his own camera crew.

Did I say five reasons? Sorry. I think we've already established my tendency to lie. But those are three good reasons why I don't consider Reality TV as a sign of the apocalypse. Any other addicts out there willing to confess? (Yes, I'm looking at you, Muse.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How Bout Them Cowboys?

I've previously said I was going to blog about writing and specifically about outlining today. I lied. It's something that I do. I blame the writer in me for that. People pay me to lie. Yes, I'm also a lawyer too. [insert lawyer joke of choice here]. I'm going to blog about a subject that is deeply personal and close to the very essence of what makes my life worthwhile, a subject that can move me to tears of joy or shouts of rage.

Tonight I will watch my Dallas Cowboys take the field and be elated or crushed depending on the results. I'm gonna blog about football. Oh, yes I am. I love my Cowboys and I love football. Football is the very essence of life. You've probably heard all the clich├ęs about the game, that it is about yards and inches, that it is a metaphor for war, etc. But I'm telling you, it is more.

It is about the team. There is no "I" in team. Of course, there is no "we" either. (There is, however, meat, but that's a separate issue.) It's about individuals doing their personal best. Glory is no mere accident, but the result of sacrifice and preparation. Winning doesn't just occur on Sunday. It begins during the blistering summer sun. It continues in sweaty weight rooms and on the field with endless repetitions and conditioning drills. If the game itself can be measured in inches and yards, the preparation can be measured in minutes and hours.

The game is the culmination of those minutes and hours. Sixty minutes of proof that you have paid your dues. Football is played in all weather. Snow or sleet, rain or punishing heat--they play. They play hurt. There is a difference, you, see in hurt and injured. You will get hit. You will be slammed to the turf, bruised, cut, beaten. Shake it off. Get back up. Keep playing.

Football is brutal that way, but it is also poetic and beautiful. Witness the receiver in slow motion, working the sidelines deep. The pass comes in high, a jump ball. This is what those repetitions are for. He knows where the ball will be and his hands close around it just as the corner puts a shoulder into his ribs. Somehow the receiver manages to will his feet down on the correct side of the white line, to drag his toes across the turf, to hold onto the ball as he is driven to the ground. Brutal and elegant, in the very same moment. And the crowd goes wild.

Which brings me back to writing. Did I say this wasn't really about writing? I lied again. It is, because like the football player, the writer isn't created by a single event. Writers start out as readers -- fans -- who cherish the stories and the written word. We learn our craft and hone it one story at a time. The hard part happens off camera, where we sweat over the structure, the perfect word, the recalcitrant character. We write and learn and polish and then hopefully submit our works only to be driven to the ground by rejection. If you are a player, you get back up. Shake it off. Keep playing.

Football is like writing and yet where the two diverge is the team. We don't join a team. We create one. We make our own team of editors, agents and beta readers. We find our own support system through others who understand what it means to be a writer, to be constantly rejected and still keep pursing the craft. Many will fall by the wayside, but the hardy and resilient will find a way to success.

For the first time in my writing career, I am beginning to feel like I have a team. I am not the lone player pushing myself beyond personal limits in a secluded gym. I'm on the field. I have trainers and cheerleaders and coaches. When knocked down, I will get back up and if this is hard, I have teammates there to help me to my feet again. I have the confidence that I will succeed.

I may not have tea, but I have won The Great Tea Debacle.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Getting to Know You

I N C O M I N G : splat.

Oh look, another blog.

Why, yes, thanks for noticing.

Being the first post of a shiny new blog is a lot to live up to and begs the question: Now what? What to blog about? See, I've never been very good about journaling and even less so in public forums. I have a bad case of the doubts. Why would I have anything interesting to say and even if I do happen to think of a scintillating topic, how would anyone notice amid the noise of a thousand hands blogging simultaneously? Yet here I am. I read my friends blogs and I'm trusting them to read mine, or at least to leave friendly comments and pretend that they read every word of breathless prose.

Now what?

How about I tell you a little bit about myself? It will explain a lot and that way, when you're are reading my blog (please come back and read it again) and you're thinking I'm one crayon short of a full box, you can simply refer back to post one and refresh your memory.

Here is the awful truth that not everyone knows about me and I will reveal it to one and all on the great internet. I really am a soccer mom. With a minivan. And a seat on the PTO. And a Labrador Retriever. And a husband and two boys and a full time job as a lawyer. Wait for it, it gets better. I live in a cute, two-story house with green shutters and an honest-to-God white picket fence. Seriously. And that is where my resemblance to the apple-pie-baking, sweater-wearing, competitive mom of your nightmares ends.

Don't get me wrong, because I can bake a mean apple pie, but I'm a redneck soccer mom. I live in a tiny little town that you've never heard of with only 1250 people officially listed in the population. I suspect they count some of the cows.

We like to play farmer and live with a menagerie mostly comprised of rescues and throw away animals that no one wanted. Currently, we share living space with two large horses, a Shetland pony, three pygmy goats, a miniature donkey, three dogs, two cats, a geriatric goldfish, and an attack rabbit.

If you question how anyone can own an attack rabbit, you have clearly never livid in close proximity to a bunny. They are impossibly bossy and vigilant. I have ceded the dining room to the bunny. It is his territory. He allows us in. But he does have to share it with my son's telescope and a giant snake kite that my husband bought at an auction. (Hubby is just waiting for the right day to try it out.) This doesn't leave room for a dining room table, but so what? I'd rather have a bunny and a telescope and a snake kite than a fancy room. Sounds like chaos? It is. I'm that sort of mom and our life in Nameless Tiny Town is odd but satisfying.

So other than lawyering, farming, chauffeuring children and indulging in whatever interests take our fancy, what do I do with all my spare time? Unless you stumbled in here by accident and are diligently searching for a polite way to exit, you already know that I am a writer. That's mostly what I'll blog about. All things writer. What do I write? I write mystery and fantasy in all lengths, from 100 word drabbles (which I suck at) to 100,000 word novels (which I suck less at) and all things in between. I'll post some of my flash fiction and links to stories I've sold to online markets and kittehs.

Oh yes, there will be kittehs.

I'm addicted to LOLCATZ. I've tried twelve step programs, but they don't work for me because I don't really have a problem. I could quit the kittehs anytime I wanted to. I just don't want to.

So that is pretty much it. Now you know all about me. Well, not all about me, but enough that you could bluff your way through a test. Welcome to my thingymablog. Please stop a moment to say howdy. I'll bring cookies. You bring the tea.


This test post will go the way of the Dodo after Mary's REAL first post steps forward. But for now, we need to obsess over color, shape, size and density.

And work on the blog, too :D