Acid Dreams or Inspiration?

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I have a tendency to remember dreams, and nightmares…and acid. No, I’ve never really done drugs, but many of my dreams strike me as weird and sometimes horrific. Like my most recent nightmare was of black widow spiders biting me and laying their nests inside of me. Just remembering that still makes me shudder. However, Last night’s dream felt very real, but it was also obviously a dream.

Probably because it was about vampires. At least that’s what I think they were. Only, they weren’t any kind of vampire that I’d ever seen before. Like some, they can eat regular food, in fact, in my dream that’s all I actually witnessed them eating, although I felt grossed out by the fact that they ate human food.

Still, when I woke, I wrote down everything I could remember of the vampires. The entire dream didn’t really matter since it morphed and changed, as dreams often do.

What really struck me, however, was the emotional roller-coaster that dream took me on. When I woke up, I felt exhausted, my eyes were red and my pillow wet. My conclusion was that I had been crying in my sleep. Even now, 8 hours later, I can feel the heart-rending loneliness that suffused the main “character” (the eyes I happened to be seeing through) felt as she looked out the window towards her past. Well, I’m assuming it was a she, although I could be wrong on that count.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sad when waking up before. And the more I think about, the sadder I become.

And I’ve thought about it a good deal since waking, trying to find a story in the bits and pieces that filtered through. What did filter through, was a sense of the vampire and immortal. There was a sense of history, and something greater and I could probably write a history on the vampires that were in this dream. That’s how real this was to me. I could describe the texture of stones, the cold water in the “baptismal” chamber, and I can still see the rustic town at sunset as the character looks out the window. But I’m probably overreacting.

I tried to figure out a reason to be dreaming about vampires (the night I dreamed of the spiders I had been watching X-files so that kinda explained it to me because I also dreamed about UFOs), but I can’t figure it out. I haven’t watched anything to do with vampires in over a month, nor have  I read anything about it, and all of my vampire books are put away for the time being.

Then I started thinking about how dreams are supposedly your subconscious’ way of dealing with issues. What does it say about someone who dreams that they become a “vampire” and leave everything they know behind? Or about a person who obsessively reflects on said dream? On the plus side, I got some really good material that I can at least use for background notes, even if there is no story there. I mean…who ever heard of a person becoming a vampire through a test to see if you’re worthy or not?

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The Arm Bone’s connected to the…Leg Bone?

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This is actually my monthly Walking to Rivendell update. I’m surprised that I got as much walking in as I did considering I took almost an entire week off (and hardly ever walk on weekends to boot). For a quick review: when I started the month I had 435.7 miles to go and would need to maintain 1.3 miles/day for the rest of the year to make my goal.

As for the title, the third week of January I over-extended my right elbow. Ow! Well…I never realized, until that week, just how interconnected the body is. I mean, I knew that the body depends on all parts to continue working correctly, but I had no idea that walking could be excruciating for an arm.  I walked as little as possible that week.

Let me explain. Usually I park about 0.6 -0.8 miles from where I work. The round trip theoretically makes my walk done for the day. So that week, my round trip walk to-and-from work ended up being about half a mile. Up to that point, my daily average was 1.5 miles a day. It ended as 1.06 miles per day with only 402.8 miles until I hit the goal.

Now I need to maintain 1.4 miles/day if I want to meet my goal. I now see that every month (so far) my goal has gone up by 1/10 of a mile,  if I keep this up I’ll need to walk 2.3 every day in November to reach the goal. Yikes. Well, as I said, walking 1.2 miles (to and from work) definitely takes some of the edge off of the need to walk every chance I get, and a 1.5 miles for today is a great start to February. I just hope I can keep it up.

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Exercising Your Creative Muscles.

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For Christmas I asked for a subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine. While I haven’t entered any of their contests in a while (say like a year), I do enjoy reading the articles that they publish. And while I can often get them online for free, I’d rather be able to turn the pages in my hand, and stop half-way through an article if I have to, or want to. Well guess what? I got it. And my first magazine came in yesterday (oddly enough it’s February’s issue), which is why I waited until today to make my post.

In this edition of Writer’s Digest, there was an article about exercising your creative muscles. “Skill-Builders for Fiction Writers,” by Mike Nappa, gave a list of things to do, what that “exercise” was supposed to do for your writing, and how to make make the most of it. In short, this is a review of one article in the February issue of Writer’s Digest.

Exercise: For enhancing our plot building, the first exercise he lists is “Play alongside a kid.” This is supposed to help you put more imagination into your plotting by immersing yourself completely in the child’s world of make-believe. He then suggests that you ask the child why they made certain decisions.

Pros: First, this is fun. If you have access to a child and haven’t done this, then you’re missing out on something that, although it’s completely exhausting, is also far more enjoyable than you’ll admit later. Second, it really is a great way to see things from a different perspective. If you’re crawling around on all fours, pretending to be horse, rearing, and whinnying and all the rest, you get not only a different perspective physically (you are, after all, on all fours) but you have to ask yourself: what would a horse do?

Cons: The obvious con here is that not everyone has a kid to play with. A writer might be an only child so no nieces or nephews, and they might not have children of their own. Another con, I find that children are relying more on television and video games than their own imagination. My third con for this one, don’t ask a child why. They’ll just as likely give you no reason as a real reason (especially the youngest ones). I would humbly suggest that you interpret why. It would be more beneficial to your skill building than simply asking anyway.

Overall: If you have a child, who uses their imagination, then this is a great exercise. However, not everyone has a child at their disposal. I would suggest, instead, simply changing your perspective deliberately. Go outside, sit against a tree and imagine what it would say to you. Imagine all the sights and sounds it has experienced and write that down. It may even spark a story.

Exercise: To help build characters, Nappa suggests that you “Let characters define themselves.” This one I really enjoyed, mostly because I thought it was funny. He suggests that you create facebook personalities for each (main) character. This will really bring your characters to life as you fill out their likes, dislikes, philosophies and religion.

Pros: This exercise will help make your characters real in a way that “describing” them can’t. What, after all, is cooler than logging into facebook and seeing your character as a “friend?”

Cons: This exercise theoretically must be done online. Also, if you want a separate account for each character, you’ll have to get an email to match it, according to fb’s new rules.

Overall: Totally funny, and I’m gonna try it. It may be useful to create one account that you can change the information on. Print them out as you finish and start over. Another way: make up a table (using Facebook as a guidline…or not, whichever), and fill it out. You can save them all to one file, or have separate files for each…and no need for the internet.

 

Exercise: The last exercise he provides is supposed to help you adapt your writing: Use every fifth word in this article. He suggests that you highlight every fifth word in the article (the one he wrote had about 160) and use them to write a story.

Pros: Definitely helps adaptation. I’ve done this exercise before, although not in Writer’s Digest. I felt my mind being stretched because in the one I tried we had to use only those words, Nappa gives no such limitation, which makes it far easier in my opinion.

Cons: Theoretically you need something in paper, however, if you can copy and paste into word it’s just as effective.

Overall: Loved this one. You can use any article, any number, and can use just those words, or you can add to it. It’s a very versatile exercise.

 

These are just a few of the exercises given in the article, and on the whole, I enjoyed reading it. However, I feel that if you’re going to present an “exercise” routine for promoting creativity, they should be offered in a way that everyone can do.

I hope you enjoyed this little review, and by all means, try an exercise.

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Leibster Awards

Okay, I understand this is one day late, but I only got the idea for this on Monday morning, and I wanted to make sure that I gave full credit to those who deserved it.

From December 5th on, I have been awarded two Leibster Awards and have been recognized as a “new find.” To show my appreciation, I would like to bestow awards on others as well. But first, I’d like to share my awards, and the awesome people who bestowed them.

On December 5, Jo Eberhardt, from The Happy Logophile awarded me with a Liebster Ham Steak Heart Award.

On December 7, Connor, from Cities of the Mind, recognized me a new fin.

And finally, on January 20 Snagglewords awarded me with the second Leibster Award.

To all of you, thanks for reading. I’m truly honored to have been given these awards.

I would also like to add that while viewing these awards I had the pleasure of reading blogs that I may not of found otherwise. Further, I had no idea what a Leibster was until I received the awards, but I’m not going to go into the details of what it means.

One more thing before I announce the winners. These are just the ones I’ve enjoyed and read on  a regular basis. They make me laugh, or think, or any number of things.  And, since I have no idea how to check the number of followers, I’m not going to include Leibster in my Award titles.

So the Winners of the Ham Steak Sauce Awards go to:

Stephen of The Undiscovered Author. This person has inspired me not just through his blog but in real life too. This was the first blog I followed, and still read whenever he posts. And it was through his blog that I started to read (and love) many of the other that I follow as well. So for that, this one goes first.

Jo from The Happy Logophile. She has written things both thought-provoking, and hilarious. My second true following went to The Happy Logophile, who shares blogs that she enjoys as well, all of which I had never heard of and probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for her.

And lastly, Tianna from Seven and a Half First Drafts. I don’t believe there has been a post I didn’t enjoy.

Thanks to all of you for the laughter you’ve provided. And the provoking thoughts. And, oops…I  just realized they are all blogs that talk about writing. Ah, well, I guess that means I’m biased. 🙂

 

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Letter Writing Part Two: The Letter

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I started Letter Writing Part One: Spelling and Grammar about a month ago. And I promised that my rant would be continued into something else. In fact, it had started as something else, the actual art of letters. Not to be confused with the alphabet. I love everything there is about a hand-written letter, from getting something (anything really) in the mail that isn’t an advertisement or bill to the paper and ink that were used to write it.

This part of the Letter Writing series, is less rant, and more praise. I have a pen pal, perhaps a tad late in life, but I never had one as a kid, although I was curious to meet people from across the seas. While my pen pal lives in the US, like myself, we are still separated by quite the distance. I won’t get into how I met my pen pal online, but during a lively discussion we realized that we both enjoyed writing and getting letters.

But what is it about letters that differs from, say, email? What makes them so enjoyable? Well, apart from the fact that it isn’t an ad or bill, it’s…everything.

Receiving a letter is like getting a Christmas present. It can stimulate excitement and curiosity, you have only a vague notion of what might be in there. It can even make your day so much brighter to know that someone else out there cares. Someone to share interests with, share joys and sorrows with. It’s also a great way for people who are shy, or need time to digest information to get to know others.

Writing a letter is just as important, but involves more than just putting pen to paper. When writing a letter you can learn interpersonal skills at a different level than applying them online or in person.   It does not have to be as formal as in-person, unless you’re writing a business letter, but can be (in my experience it is) more formal than an online presence (facebook and twitter to name two). Writing letters can help with memory, when you are replying to what the other just written while also keeping in mind what they have said previously.

When writing a letter you should be able to take into account the person on the other end. What are their interests? Do they really care that you have seven cats and four dogs? How to say things are just as important as what to say in a letter. There are several different reading levels and formality levels. If you’re writing a letter to a friend, feel free to be more informal, and lower the reading level (or raise it, whichever fits both of you).  Writing letters on a regular basis for pleasure can help prepare for writing more formal forms of address (Cover and Thank You Letters).

This pastime can also help vocabulary skills. Sometimes when I’m talking with someone in person I can’t always say what I mean but will think of it later. I don’t have to worry about it when writing a letter, I can take hours to write a single sentence (although that rarely happens).  I can look it up while writing, that’s hard to do in person. I can also look up synonyms when writing a letter to get the whole feeling across.

I just received a letter from a friend in Texas. I was pleasantly surprised that it took a shorter amount of time to traverse half the country than it usually does. I found out that she has interests in helping other people and volunteering, I had never known that part of her before and it was good to find out so I can add more of what I put into my letters to her.

Perhaps this whole post seems a bit scattered, it was written over a couple of days. I do hope, however,  that my passion for letters gets across. I honestly believe that learning how to write a letter can help people in their lives,

both professionally and personally.

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Graduate School,the Writing Life and my Biggest Fear

Last Friday and Saturday, I underwent orientation for the MLIS program at the local university. During this time I realized that my life as a writer would have to be put on hold a bit, as well as my blogging. But I’m not giving up completely. The majority of the classes are online, giving me ample time to also blog. However, due to the workload, and my work in the Archives, and looking for a second part-time job, and volunteering at the local public library, my time will be greatly reduced, therefore, I’m cutting my hours back to one post a week. I believe I can manage that and my workload. I promise not to let anyone down. There will be some exceptions, updates to the Rivendell challenge will be posted on the first of each month.

My Letter Writing Series will pick up next week on Monday.

But back to graduate school. Sometimes, a person has to determine what is more important in their life, doing the one thing they love and perhaps forgoing the money that would come with something else, and being with the one they love, whose desire for material safety has held back their life together thus far. I have chosen the latter. During a rare moment into his private workings, my fiance let me know what his greatest fear was. And it wasn’t heights. His greatest fear is being poor, and being unable to pay bills, and struggling financially. I should have been able to guess, but I suppose I let my feeling cloud my judgement. I do not fear being poor, living on well fare if I have to. I now realize why he was so encouraging in my dalliance with MLIS. It can come with a steady paycheck.

Do you want to my biggest fear? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. It’s being unhappy. It’s having to go in for a 9-5 job that I hate. It’s flipping burgers. I’d rather be poor and enjoy my work, i.e. writing, than rich and be miserable in all that I do. That’s why I bounced from one major to another to another in my college career. If I couldn’t be happy studying it, how could I find a job that I would like in that field? I am not giving up on writing, but I am giving up a career in writing before it’s even begun, because even if I had a job that I loved if I didn’t have my fiance I would still be miserable. I once believed that he was supportive of my writing, but I have seen now that I was wrong. His only encouragement is what will make us more money. MLIS, then, is a compromise. I like libraries almost as much I like writing, and it has the paycheck that he looks for.

So all that’s left is to win the lottery and never have to work again, right? That way, I can do whatever I please. But I should probably have a back-up plan in case that doesn’t work.

I promise that my next post will be far more upbeat, as I have reread this post I found it kind of…depressing. But perhaps it’s only my mindset since I’m sort of feeling disappointed right now. Still, graduate school is going well so far, and my job in the archives is far from the strenuous work of a restaurant, and I even get to work with rare books, and hang death shrouds, and order little freshmen around. So it’s not all bad, in fact, the ordering freshmen around is quite the picker upper.

Until next time then.

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Happy New Year!

I realize that it’s been a while since my last post. Between two families, and all the holiday stuff that goes with it, and finishing my novel, I haven’t had much time to blog. From now on, every December I’ll be taking off. There’s just no way between two Thanksgivings, a birthday (or several), and two Christmases and still do everything I need to do.  I promise, however, to maintain the blog over the course of the rest of the year. Even if that means I’m writing ahead of schedule.

I said I finished my first novel. It currently sits at just under 100K. I haven’t started editing it, yet. And I’m going to take all of January off of that. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I thought I’d share with you the working title, and I’d appreciate any feedback. Lilith’s Children. Although I’m toying with the idea of turning it into a series, and that may become the series title.

I’ll have plenty to keep me busy, since I’m starting grad school, a graduate assistant job, and my fiance and I are looking for a house. Add to that three short story ideas that came to me while I was trying to finish my novel. I’ll definitely have my hands full.

I promised once a month updates for walking to Rivendell. My current location, a la Tolkien, is somewhere between the first night and second night. According to the website, the hobbits walked 18 miles that first day! Erm, well, I’ll admit to only finishing 22 miles (although I started mile 23) in the month of December. This means I did not meet my daily goal of 1.2 miles every day. With that, I now must up the ante to 1.3 miles every day to finish my deadline of November 30.

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