Category Archives: Miscellany

Stuff in my life that doesn’t fit into any other category. Look here for the hilarious observations.

Weasley is our king, and other writing inspiration.

On a road trip with the kids over the weekend, we listened to the fifth Harry Potter book (The Order of the Phoenix). It was the first time the kids had read that one, and I warned them ahead of time about some of the things that might be frustrating about the book. I remembered it as one of my least favorite because Harry is so moody the whole time. Oh, and don’t get me started on Dolores Umbridge… grrrrr.

But as we listened I found myself laughing out loud much more often than I’d expected. I forgot all of the lovely, funny quips and comments that J.K. Rowling peppers throughout her books, and Order of the Phoenix has so many of these. Also, Rowling knows how to write characters you care about (or love to hate), and storylines where you can’t wait to find out what happens.

Plus, the song. I had completely forgotten about the song. (“…he always lets the quaffle in…”)

I was inspired! I’ve been on a bit of a break from my own writing, but listening to Harry Potter made me want to pick it back up. And so, as Dolores Umbridge might say…

I must make writing a daily habit.
I must make writing a daily habit.
I must make writing a daily habit.
I must make writing a daily habit.
I must make writing a daily habit.
I must make writing a daily habit.
I must make writing a daily habit.
I must make writing a daily habit…

Happy writing!

Image of crown by Ryan McGuire on Stocksnap.io
Image of pen and paper by Aaron Burden on Stocksnap.io

My New Year’s Revolutions

Happy 2018!

No, the title of this post is not a typo. The other day, in the serious way of the very young, my 6-year-old asked me what my New Year’s revolutions were going to be. We had a good chuckle and a quick explanation of the difference between “revolution” and “resolution.”

I explained that I normally don’t set resolutions. This is for many reasons, not least of which that it feels like setting myself up for failure.

Do I have to fail? Nope.

Would a good action plan help? Almost certainly.

But the cultural norm is to laugh about resolutions. To make a joke of them before they even start. (I can’t be the only one who is astounded by the number of people whose automatic response to hearing you’re going to do something new is to say something like, “Do you know what percentage of resolutions fail within the first month?” How is that supposed to be helpful?!)

So, most years I just choose not to set a resolution. I begin the year the way I mean to go on, and I don’t think too much more about it.

But my conversation with my son got me thinking. Upon reflecting on the way that each year is a revolution of the Earth around the sun, and each day is a small piece of that revolution with the Earth twirling itself around, we decided that “revolutions” might be a fitting name for those things I’d like to take on in the new year after all.

Therefore, I’m going to use the days of 2018 to make some revolutions of my own.

  1. I’m going to revolve the way I think about cooking dinner. It’s not usually my job, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy doing it once in a while. I have a new wok (the only Christmas present I asked for), and I’m going to learn to use it. Not a resolution, but it could be revolutionary to our meal planning.
  2. I’m going to revolve the way I think about Saturday mornings. Every Saturday, I drive my daughter an hour each way to fencing class, and sit, trying to work for the two hours of class, but really watching the fencers. I’m already there. Why shouldn’t I try something new and get some exercise at the same time? I’m now a beginner fencer, and learning the moves and steps has already begun to been revolutionary for my muscle groups.
  3. I’m going to revolve the way I’m thinking about writing my book. I’ve been treating it like a chore. It’s not under deadline by some other entity. It’s up to me — do I want to finish telling this story or not? If I do, I’d better make a plan to get it done. For real this time. Finally getting my book done will be revolutionary after sitting on it for so long.

In what ways are you going to revolve your thinking this year? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments!

Happy revolving!

Photo of calendar page by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Photo of journal page by Estée Janssens on Unsplash
Photo of coffee mug by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

Homeschooling isn’t wrestling, either.

“Imagination is our greatest gift and our greatest curse…” -Max Landis, from his short film Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling

I’ve been on a Max Landis kick. Ever since I listened to his episode of the Nerdist podcast a few years ago I’ve been intrigued by the way he tells stories. After seeing his recent tweet about his mom and the Jeopardy question about costumes for Indiana Jones, I ended up finding, and reading, his entire treatise on Carly Rae Jepsen, watched The Death and Return of Superman, and then Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling.  [Fair Warning: his stuff, including the above linked tweet and video, tends to be NSFW]

Two immediate reactions:

1) He shared that the first thing people say to him about wrestling is, “You know it’s fake, right?” It reminded me of the way people react when I announce that I homeschool. It’s frustratingly predictable, and coming from someone who has no experience of it, a response like this almost feels designed to make you feel bad about yourself.

2) Max Landis isn’t going to feel bad about himself, and neither am I. His contention, quoted above, is that people need drama and stories because our infinite imaginative capacity can leave us bored, and wrestling fills that gap for him. “We love watching people grow, change, struggle. Good people; bad people. We don’t care. We want to see it, man.”

This is closer to what wrestling looks like at our house.

Reading and writing, homeschooling, and even falling down the Max Landis rabbit hole all charge up my imagination in different ways.

Max Landis probably isn’t for everyone. But the stuff that is “for everyone” tends to get bland and watered down anyway. So if you’re feeling daring, check his stuff out. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite source of entertainment to satisfy your ever-hungry imagination.

Happy doing-whatever-it-is-you-like-to-do-best-ing!

Wrestlers photo by Martin Kníže on Unsplash
Panda photo by Jackson Ingraham on Unsplash

The key to #happiness. #inspiration #quote

“The great Western disease is, ‘I’ll be happy when… When I get the money. When I get a BMW. When I get this job.’ Well, the reality is, you never get to ‘when.’

“The only way to find happiness is to understand that happiness is not out there. It’s in here. And happiness is not next week. It’s now.” ~Marshall Goldsmith, American Author

Got this quote in my email the other day. I was struck by the idea: so, I just have to decide I’m happy, and I am happy?

I was enamored of the story of Pollyanna as a child and try to model my thinking after her when I can remember to. But seeing it laid out so simply really inspired me.

Of course, living it is a slightly trickier proposition. Sometimes the brain — be it from hormones, low blood sugar, or early training — just doesn’t want to understand that happiness is believing you’re happy. But that’s the beauty of this way of thinking. Even if you’re having a bad day and can’t see happiness, that doesn’t cause it to go away forever. It just means that when you’re back to yourself tomorrow, you again decide that you’re happy, and you are.

I’m posting this one on the bulletin board behind my desk so I can be inspired by it every day!

Happy day!

Things that go bump… #weepingangels #doctorwho

Another night where I have work that needs doing, and it’s very difficult to do during the day when I don’t have any childcare help, but I’m thinking about everything else.

Here’s how the internal struggle has been going:

1) I’m not hungry, but suddenly decide I need a snack. There are salty dry roasted almonds and sweet dried pineapple downstairs in the pantry… a perfect match.

2) My house is a mess. It’s like a toy farm where toys are growing everywhere, and most especially on the carpet. If I go downstairs there’s a high percentage chance I will trip on one of these highly sustainable toy crops and possibly break something (me or the toy).

3) But I really do want a snack. Don’t need one, just want one. I should brave it.

4) In the hallway, looking down the stairs into darkness. What if there’s a Weeping Angel down there?*

weepingangles

5) I’m the mom now. I’m the adult in the house. It’s high time to stop worrying about silly things and just go get my snack!

6) But I don’t really need a snack. Though I do want one….

7) For goodness sakes woman!

8) Okay, down the stairs, flipping lights on as I go (harder for a Weeping Angel to sneak up on you when it’s light). And it’s snack time!

9) Maybe a quick game of Candy Crush while I’m near where I keep my cell phone docked….

10) Oh no! Has it already been almost an hour? I have GOT to get that work done!

11) What if there’s a Weeping Angel at the top of the stairs?

12) Back to the office. Now that the struggle is over, and I’m still avoiding work by writing a blog post about it, I feel that the snack was definitely justified. However, I’m starting to get really thirsty…

 

*while I realize Weeping Angels are fictional and therefore highly unlikely to be in my house, ever since I saw the Doctor Who episode called Blink I have been convinced that I’m going to find a seemingly innocent statue perched in my house in a place where it shouldn’t be, and as soon as I turn my back… BAM!

Why I won’t be paying to crush any candies: how #writing a novel is like playing #candycrush

As I work on completing my first novel so that I can either sell it to a publisher or self-publish, I am tempted to rush to the end. I just want it to be done already! But I also know that rushing it is the worst way to get my story out there, and will ultimately do me a disservice. I keep reminding myself that the journey is key. Do the right things, and good will come of it.

I have also recently become addicted to Candy Crush. Who hasn’t? That game is making millions of dollars per day*, or so I’m told. And the people who made it definitely know what’s addictive to humans — sounds, praise, lots of candies flashing across the screen…

The problem with Candy Crush — wait for it; you might think I’m going to say it’s that you have to wait to get new lives or that you have to do those quests in between sections, but that’s NOT what I’m going to say — is that it only costs 99 cents to “cheat.” See, not what you thought I was going to say, right?

Philosophically if the game is offering you extra moves or the chance to skip the quests, then that isn’t really cheating. But every time I think about taking that super-easy road, I ask myself this: “what am I playing for?” I’m not playing to reach the end — there IS no end. If you’ve reached “the end” you’ll have seen that there’s another similar game now available, or new levels are suddenly on offer. I’m playing to play.

Dare I make the comparison? Yes, I do dare: there’s almost no more perfect metaphor for becoming an author than playing Candy Crush**.

Yep, you can get there faster — whether “there” is Lemonade Lake or publishing your novel. But if you do make that skip, it’s going to cost you. It might just be 99 cents to start, but once you open the door to shortcuts, you’re willing to take them again and again. Pretty soon, you’ve spent $20 on a “free” game, or you’ve published a book that you realize could have been better — whether that’s better written, better edited, or better marketed. And then your return isn’t as great as it would have been.

I’m in Candy Crush for the journey. If I stay on level 86 forever, at least I’m still making the journey, rather than putting resources into a venture that ends up netting me nothing.

Of course, I realize that without all the people who do pay for levels, I’d have no Candy Crush to play at all, since the company has to make money to stay afloat. You can pick apart my metaphor in many other ways if you wish. Maybe it’s not that perfect. Neither am I***. But I’m still sticking out my editing process, and my Candy Crush level, until I beat it myself, rather than taking the shortcut.

Happy writing and Crushing!

*This is one of those “I think I heard it somewhere” anecdotes, rather than an actual fact that I can back up with proof.

**I’m sure there are many more perfect metaphors, but writers are given to hyperbole. It makes for a better story.

***In fact, I had to make the rule not to pay for Candy Crush because I’m the kind who might get so addicted that I probably wouldn’t ever stop if I let myself skip. I NEED the 30-min buffer. Plus, I’m “frugal.” Ask my husband. He might use a different word, but either way it means I try to keep us both from spending too much on “unnecessary column” items.

UPDATE: After being stuck for literally weeks (due to my no pay rule). I finally passed level 86! Yay! Now back to work.