Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Details

I'm a little embarrassed to share this but what can I say, I am learning as I go. My tangent is ending and I am getting back to finishing my novel. Progress is a little slow and I have been working through areas where the story was lacking. Most season writers may have caught this earlier but some of us newbies need a little extra time. Soon enough, I will be ready for Draft #3.

As much as I have worked to developed my characters and plots. I found a few rather crucial gaps. Though fiction may be strange but it has to make sense. It's the feeling of truthfulness that makes it work. Therefore, I found making your main characters work together just because you want them too isn't enough.  I kept thinking, "Why do they care about each other at all?" As the author, I know why but if the words on the page make me ask that question, I wouldn't blame the reader for asking the same.

When I started to press the details of their relationship, I stumbled, almost literally (my room's a mess), onto an even bigger gap. Once I sorted out my characters bond over a common goal and enemy with more detail than before. The question became, "Whose their enemy?" Thus far I have left their nemesis as a shadow figure. For all villains dress in dark clothing and laugh maniacally, right?

At this point, I had to laugh at myself. Sometimes I think others can read my mind so I don't have to write the details. Apparently that isn't true...

Details aren't easy for me to write but I live them every day. My story must be developed in action and relationship. That goes for all characters involved. My villain needs to be just as developed as my hero/ine(s).  For the roots of the story are just as they are in life, based more in our interactions than merely action itself.

My fictional friends relationships are as real as my own. That is with enough detail. So here's to closing the gaps, making characters who make sense and are worth caring about and getting to Draft #3!

I guess I don't have much to be embarrassed about. How else will I learn? What about you? How have details helped your story?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cat Lady?

This week is my cat's birthday. Now before you judge me and a call me a "cat lady", let me say that my cat is practically a dog.

 In our 16 years together, he has proven to be a loyal companion except for when he wants to be else where. He comes when he is called pending any pressing obligations to look out the window or take a nap. "Speaking" is basically his past time when he wants something and begging through starring isn't working. He can give you his paw on command or on occasions when he might feel that you are distracted from your focus on him. He wags his tail but only in your face. He trots beside you to check your reflexes with sudden stops and turns.  And he even plays games at least until he gets bored.

See, he's practically a dog. Aren't you glad you didn't judge me? :) 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Runs in the Family...

This week my Grandma would have turned 89. I used to tease her that with a family like ours, I had "no hope of being normal." We would both laugh at the truth of that statement. I will admit I don't really know what normal is but I'm probably not it and neither was she.

These are my Grandparents in 1957.
She grew up in Depression era eastern Michigan as the oldest child of Swedish immigrants. She married my Grandfather in what I like to pretend was some sort of Gatsby-esque soiree. They had four children including my mom. As a child I remember her being the only artist and designer I knew. She was always working on a project in her sewing room. I was sure one day she would be buried alive there by fabric, buttons, and patterns while she watched her "stories" and hunched over her latest design. She dabbled in a bit of everything. She worked on things practically up until the day she died. And as I watched her, I thought I would never be anything like her.

She's been gone for almost four years now and slowly I seeing inherited qualities popping out of me. We aren't creative in the same way but we both use our work to express what we can't quite say. Her life wasn't easy and I can see how she used her projects as a way sort through things. I didn't understand that as a child. Her seemingly scattered actions to finish whatever lay before her seemed meaningless to me. But they don't anymore.

Honestly, I was scared to be like her. She thought like no one else and proceeded accordingly. Where I once saw her work as separating herself from others, I think it was really an attempt to engage them. To draw people into her world in the way she was drawn into theirs. It was an imperfect process but that didn't hinder her determination to try.

I respect that and I hope I become more like my Grandma. We may not have understood each other when she was alive but we do now. Us "abnormal" people have got to stick together. I am so thankful I've got such a great example to follow!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ten Year Reunion

As much as I hate to admit it, nor can I really believe it but I have been out of high school for ten years. Yes, a whole decade has passed since I walked across the stage for my first of three graduation ceremonies. This has brought about much reminiscing. High School was well...interesting. All these years later, I am finding out that I am almost the same person. I just didn't have the means then to understand what that meant.

I was an awkward teenager. I hadn't quite learned how to control my long arms and legs. I was terrified of boys and I used humor to cope. Hmm, maybe even less has changed than I thought... Then came my senior year. My friends began making plans and I spun my wheels. I didn't know what I wanted to do or where to go to school. Everything seemed like a good idea at the time but I knew it wasn't all a good fit. 

Around the end of the year, my friend Leslie decided my humor was amusing enough to nominate me for funniest girl in my class. Much to the chagrin of another, I won. I was by no means popular but everyone knew me. Kids would say, "I heard you were voted funniest. Say something funny." I would always look at them and think, "you don't understand humor."

It's funny how long it has taken me to actually embrace this label. But I am the perpetual late bloomer and typical high school students don't need ten years to "grow up" after they graduate.  At the time, I had no idea it would take this long but, I am guessing, I am not the only one.

I graduated thinking the world would lay out a path at my feet. I would know what to do and where to go. But any adult can tell you life isn't that simple. The last decade of my life is proof of that. But on this anniversary, I can say that Leslie named sometime for me, I couldn't at the time. I spent a good eight years trying to avoid being funny but it always crept out. And now I have spent the last two learning to let it out. To translate that goofy kid into a goofy grown up and be okay with it.

And that's really were the story begins...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Something

This is either the beginning of something great or a great something. I am so blessed by the response to my Church Seating Post. It is encouraging me to unleash the variety of "thoughts" I have for blogging topics. It may not help get my novel done but it is certainly is growing me up a story teller and writer. No words are wasted, but some are goofier than others. Thanks for reading!

Conspiracy?

I find myself shocked there is not more mention of this! What is it you might ask? What have the "THEYs" and the "THEMs" of this world been hiding from you. Well, probably a lot, but nothing as sinister as this. It is none other than the car radio...

I can see your jaw has fallen to the desk with this news and you sit in utter disbelief. However, you must compose yourself. The truth will about this will ease your nerves.

Many years ago, car manufactures and radio makers met in the wee hours of the night and formulated a plan to make you forget about the creeks and rattles your car makes. The thumps and screeching emitted from your vehicle while in motion. The plan was simple. Put a radio in every car so the sound of talk radio and the day's greatest hits would drowned out our doubts about the drive-ability of our bucket of bolts.

And friends, we fell for it. Only a cliche best describes it. Please select your own. We bought into this plot against us so much so that radios have gotten fancier and sound systems in cars are now better than the surround sound in a 3-D movie.

If you think I am kidding, try driving with the radio off for a whole car trip. What you might hear could be disturbing... but just remember, THEY did this to you!

Don't fall for any longer. You control the volume button or knob. The choice is yours. 


(This is a humorous account. No car radios or vehicles were injured during the writing of this article. The "THEYs" and "THEMs" finally remarked, "No Comment," when asked about this. If you would like a real history lesson, here it is. )

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Presbyterian's Guide to Church Seating

As someone who's not too far removed from the tricky process of finding “my seat” in church, I thought I might offer a few helpful tips for those who are still looking. This can be a difficult endeavor but with these easy tips, you can avoid the much dreaded, “in Christian love, remove yourself from my seat" glare.

We all know that picking your seat is as serious as joining the church. Selection cannot be taken lightly, for it is permanent.  This is a multi-phased process which executed properly should yield the idea worship service spot. 

First, consider the room. How is the seating arranged? Chairs or pews? Is the sanctuary long or wide? Where is the pulpit situated? And where are the heating/air condition vents located? Where are the exits?

You may believe these questions to be nonessential but if you have ever found yourself unable to hear, packed in a pew with thirty others and suffering from mild hypothermia, you know their importance. 

Second, upon completion of your sanctuary review, you need to do a personal evaluation. Do you want to sit near anyone else? Do you need to see the pastor? How quickly do you wish to exit after the Benediction? Where do the children sit?

This will help you to determine two of the most critical criteria for where you sit. Front, Back or Middle? And in many sanctuaries/meeting rooms, Left, Right or Middle?
(Hint: True Presbyterians sit mostly middle or back) 

The more difficult of these questions is the Left, Right or Middle? Please allow me to offer this simple yet handy reference guide based on how you sleep.
If you sleep on your back? The Middle is likely for you. Are you a side sleeper? Then choose the side which matches the shoulder you rest on most frequently. If you are stomach sleeper, whichever way your head naturally turns is your preferred side. Doing this will also minimize your physical discomfort during the service.

Which brings us to the third step in the process, seat visiting. Now that you have selected a general area where you might like to sit, you will need to run several "test seat" visits. Take this seriously because it could be the difference between true community and Church discipline.

To make the best selection, I suggest varying your arrive to Church. Come early, come late, come right on time and after a few weeks which seats are open will become clear. Don't be embarrassed about the time it takes, we have all gone through this process. 
I also recommend, if needed, draw a diagram and cross out seats as they become occupied. It will shorten your test seating time. 

During this period, it is wise to test as many seats as possible, without moving mid-service. Keep in mind the previous steps and soon enough you will find your permanent Church Seat.

The final selection process comes with further evaluation. 
Consider: Does your chosen seat surround you with people who make a joyful noise or do they sound more like the angels? Do you happen to be seated behind the only seven foot tall man in your church? Have you  received a glare? Or perhaps a welcoming smile from you selected section? Can focus on the sermon or are the children near you more interesting? (Oh, sorry that is a different issue entirely)

Once you have chosen your seat, it will likely be a blessing for years to come. Chose carefully, pray for wisdom and consult Church leadership, if needed. Aside from a few who were born in their pew, we all understand this trying time in attending a new church.

Don't be discouraged. I am living proof this process works. I sit Middle Right.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gentle

Tonight, a friend posted about the Myers Briggs Personality Test turning 70 this year. It spurred me on to take my own test and see what came up. I have taken it before and usually recieve an INFP or ENFP and according to one test I was an INTJ. While I have many of these qualities of these personality types. I am most often an INFP. Then I looked up the picture or as they are called on this occasion "party favor." I was surprised by what I found.

Reading the words on this picture elicited nods of agreement as I thought, "Yes, that's me." That was until I saw the word "gentle" placed with almost certain intention where the mouth would reside. This struck me sending a pang through my heart of...I'm not sure. For all my love of words and encouragement, what I say wouldn't generally be classified as gentle. I am staring to thing that pang is a reminder that I would like them to be.

Not that opinions and humor don't have their place but maybe I need to learn to choose my words with more discernment at times. I can think of at least three people I usually crush instead of gently uplift with only a few syllables. And I can think of at least one fictional character receiving the same treatment. This is far from what I want my words to be.

Oh, how I need the grace of God to grow me up in Christ so that I would be gentle. Not just in my wording but in my heart as well. Several of the other words on the page do describe me well, but because gentleness isn't necessarily characteristic, they are hidden away behind harsh words. Time for some serious prayer and consideration, which considering makes a lot of sense.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Twitter's "Unofficial" Side Effects.

I joined Twitter a few months ago after years of resisting it. I thought it might be a plausible outlet for all of the "extra" thoughts or randomness I have in my mine. Although, at times it is a tremendous distraction, I am constantly learning from it (shockingly) and enjoying nearly every tweet. This interest has lead me to consider what some of  the "Side Effects" of Twitter might be.

They are as follows:
  • Don't use Twitter while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Twitter may interfere with your ability to operate heavy machinery.
  • Twitter Feed's may cause dizziness, scroll slowly.
  • Twitter is most effect when used with various forms of Social Media. 
  • If you experience an increase in blood pressure due to amazing Tweets, Retweet.
  • Should boredom occur, please refresh browser. If symptoms persist, try Pinterest.
  • When used correctly Twitter will entertain in exchange for time depletion. 
This list is far from conclusive but I think you get the gist. Happy Tweeting from this Happy Twit!