Wednesday, March 1, 2017

All writers are supermodels

Writing background music.
Check.(Study on Spotify) 
Check. (Good in-between time of not hungry and time to start dinner.)
Writing prompt.
Check. (Blog about last weekend's writing retreat.)

Great! Everything I need. Plus:
Excuse to procrastinate.
Check. (My blog layout is ugly and outdated.)

I know what this is. Procrastination is Perfectionism. And Perfection is a big fat lie, kind of like the "thigh-gap" or "invisible pores." Sure, there may be a few women out there who really look like the images we see in the magazines, but most of the time, the pictures we see are the gift of photo-shop artists.

Like the magazine model who prepares for a shoot by dieting, working out, and buffing her skin with a sander, I prepared for my writing time by mixing up my drink, clicking on my music, and sitting down. That's all we both need, right? The muse will come to me and I will peck away at the keys, creating a fantastic piece of writing. The model will convey at least 15 different emotions into the camera, complete with a different outfit for each, leaving the photographer with at least 100 usable photos. 

Or not. 

Before I even started, I took a look at my blog and decided this website was not ready for any kind of muse. It was as if my imaginary model checked herself on the way to the shoot and found a brand new zit on her forehead. 

No, this will not do at all.

But here's the thing, if you want to get started with anything; if you want to move forward at all; you have to DO THE THING, no matter what real or imagined thing is in the way. 

The model may sweep her hair over the zit, or use more makeup-- but the photographer may need a shot with her hair up, anyway. It will still work. 

I may make a few little changes to the layout of the blog, but still not love it. I'll write anyway. 

For me, it's not about the perfect blog post (as you can see, if you are still reading this). It's about doing the writing. Practicing getting to the page more often, and even sharing, no matter that it could be better. 

There will be time to create a new website, just like there will be time for the photo-shoppers to tend to my model's blemish. For now, I will get some words up onto my lonely blog as a reminder to myself that once I hit publish, it's not going to be perfect. 

And that is okay.

Happy Writing!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall and new beginnings

First Monday in October

Starting over, again.

When I started this blog in 2009, it was part of an overall plan to help writers in order to help myself. Excuse Editor emerged from the idea that I wanted to write, but always came up with reasons--excuses-- why I could not write. Not right NOW. 

So, I wrote about reasons why right now WAS the time to write. I gave suggestions about setting up writing schedules, about sneaking your writing time in, about diving in without thinking about the end result, and about ways to free your mind. Sometimes, I even took my own advice. But, like an addict, I would return to the comfortable numbness of the excuses: I need to focus on my work. I have to make sure my house is in order. I deserve a vacation. Or two.

In between these relapses of Excuse Making, I continued to chip away at my work, mostly a memoir that I didn't think would open up so many raw feelings within me. After all, I was writing about stuff 20 and 30 years in the past. As far as rough childhoods go, mine was in the "fairly easy" category-- most of the time. At least that's what I had always focused on before. Of course, it was those daggers of painful times that took my breath away when I was writing. So I would stop. I let the newly opened scars heal a bit before I dove back in. It has been more like therapy than the few months I actually had therapy.

Because of this, along with a job that was getting more demanding and a drive to become involved in different hobbies (think organic body care and improv comedy), the other aspects of Excuse Editor got lost. My monthly newsletter dwindled to nothing. My list of markets basically went away. I know that a few readers miss this. I will not say it will return in the same way. I'm not in a position to make many promises to others right now, as I need to keep a promise I made to myself over a year ago when my dear friend Paula died. I need to keep writing. Eventually, I need to finish my book.

What happens to the memoir when it's done, I'm not sure. I may not be strong enough to market it. Or, I may find that strength in the editing phase. 

Whatever the case, I will find my daily writing habit again. I've already started with Morning Pages. Every morning for the past week I have started the day with a free write of 3 pages. The sense of calm this instills in me is similar to meditation. Those scribbles may or may not ever end up in any other work. It doesn't matter. It is setting my writing mind in motion. And that is why I'm writing again. 

Happy Writing!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

M is for Momentum (in memorandum)

Today is the last day of the A to Z challenge. I can honesty say I did not meet the challenge; or I can say I met the challenge and forgot its name the next time it came around even though I felt like it was on the tip of my tongue. And it's not like I'm going to get much written today. Here's my view:

Sure, it's inspiring. But the sound of the waves is also relaxing, especially after the wonderful brunch I just had. I'm at the tail end of a very nice vacation. My husband is practicing his guitar for his gig tonight. If you are going to be in a band, why not get a gig or two at the beach? I'm happy to tag along, of course. In a few days, we'll be back home, working the day jobs, and our week as touring musician and wife will be a memory. My birthday is Wednesday, and this has been a perfect celebration, as well as a reminder to enjoy every moment. 

So I'm not going to beat myself up for losing this challenge. Tomorrow is another day. Another M word, Memoir, is still in the works, and observing my life now creates a fantastic lens in which to observe my past. I can't wait to see all of the shades in the final product.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

Happy Writing--and LIVING!


Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for List

Staying with the 15-minute time limit, here's a list. What kind of list do you think of when you think of a list? Well, here's a list of them: 

  • Grocery list
  • Shopping List (same thing, maybe, maybe you are shopping for something else.)
  • Laundry List (I don't know why this is a thing, but it is.)
  • Bucket list (yup)
  • List of excuses
  • List of sexual positions (see Kama Sutra)
  • List of sexual partners (see Anna Feris in "What's your number?" On the other hand, no. It's kind of a sad movie disguised as a comedy.)
  • List of medications (and this includes vitamins. Apparently, that matters now.)
  • To-do list
  • Do it later list
  • Goal list
  • Never gonna happen list (sometimes you gotta let it go)
  • Wedding invitation list
  • Available divorce lawyer list
  • Shit list
  • Party invitation list
  • List of fine wines
  • List of good beers
  • List of hangover remedies
  • List of TV shows
  • List of books
  • Packing list
  • List of things to pack (different than a packing list, since this is what I need to pack for a trip, not what the company packed in my FedEx)
  • List of Pros and Cons
  • List of the ways I love you (let me count the ways...needs a list, right)
  • Top 40 list
  • Top 10 List (Aw, that was a great Letterman bit, but Thank You notes with Jimmy Fallon is pretty awesome, too)
  • Thank you card list
  • Christmas card list
  • Agenda list (is that redundant?)
  • Angie's list
  • Craigslist (aw, how I met my hubby...)
  • Set List
  • List of lists
So time's up. What lists did I forget? I'm sure there are a few obvious ones.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Keurig

Before I moved to Texas,  I had given away my coffee maker. I wasn't drinking much coffee at home, only a cup or two at work (the beans were freshly ground and brewed one cup at a time--fabulous). Besides, the guy I was going to be moving in with (my now husband) wasn't a coffee drinker, and all I had was an old, 8-cup coffee maker. I needed to get rid of many things (read: I didn't want to pack all the things). 

The coffee maker made a new home with somebody I found on Craigslist (I was a big fan of the site, having met my new-boyfriend-now-husband there, and then posting an ad my man created on there that ended up helping to sell my condo so I could move). The post had read that the man was down on his luck and he needed some things, including a bed, for his 10-year old son who was coming to live with him. I had to get rid of a bed, and a little breakfast table, and a few other things. When he stopped by to pick up the twin mattress and box-spring, I asked if he would also like the coffee maker. The man almost cried he was so grateful. I guess coffee at home wasn't a luxury he could afford just then. So, what I though of as a used-up coffee maker found a good home for the rest of its days. 

In Texas, I worked from home. After a while, I started missing my morning coffee. I purchased some instant coffee. I'm not sure if they still sell them, but Folgers used to have tea bags filled with coffee, so I could make a cup at a time. It was nice, but, didn't seem the same. 

Around the same time, Keurig's were gaining in popularity. I thought they were too pricey, but when I visited someone with one, I loved the convenience and all the different coffees. One year, during Christmas shopping season, I went out to purchase one on sale. A few friends came along, one who had a Keurig at home. 

She helped me weigh the pros and cons of the machine. I began a little cost analysis in my head. Was it worth it to me to pay that much per cup of coffee, even if I was getting the machine on sale? At the end of the day, I decided to buy an extremely inexpensive (especially since I came with a $10 discount card for the store) 4-cup coffee maker and purchased some gourmet coffee for it instead. Of course, I could have purchased the Keurig, and still purchase the gourmet coffee-- and THEN purchase the filter for the machine that uses regular coffee-- but WHY? Just keep it simple!

I returned to enjoying my one or two cup a day habit. My husband still wasn't a fan of coffee, but saw how I  was. The next Christmas, I received a brand new Keurig. 

This wouldn't be the first time a gift from my husband has turned me on to a new technology. I never wanted to bother with learning how to download music. Then he bought me my first i-pod. I said I would never give up reading a "real book." He bought me my first Kindle. I'm still hooked (a lot safer to be an e-book hoarder than a physical book hoarder. And, less to dust.).

Of course, I had a fresh new bag of a gourmet mocha coffee to finish. I put my little 4-cup machine away and purchased the single-use filter for the new machine. Eventually, I started to buy the single-serve pods, and really enjoyed it. Since it also makes hot chocolate and other hot drinks, my husband used it a bit as well, but still wasn't into the coffee.  Until...

We popped into a little coffee shop in Ventura while on vacation. I talked him into trying one of the flavored lattes. He loved it. Back at home, he was disappointed to find that coffee didn't come out of our machine tasting like the blended recipes we had at the shop. 

"But it says mocha on the label," he complained, "Why doesn't it taste the same," I added sugar and cream and he liked it okay, but still wasn't convinced. 

I'm a member of an online wellness club that sells vitamins, snacks, cleaning products, etc. This year, they introduced coffee, including organic coffee and including Keurig single serve pods. I really liked it (and I like that I could get it delivered with my monthly shipment of other stuff) and my husband and I really liked the Luxe Vanilla Cappuccino. So, after many years, I'm sharing the coffee maker. Now, the club also sells bagged coffee, and for some reason, the Hazelnut is not in the single serving pods, so I ordered a bag, and started using the little filter again. Today, I knew I was going to have more than one cup, so rather than putting it in the filter and dumping and refilling (which is kind of a pain), I dug my 4-cup coffee maker out.

Now, the first pot was a little strong. I'm out of practice and forgot the ratio. But the little pot has a place on the counter for now. At least until next week, when I get more Luxe Vanilla Cappuccino. 

(Side note: yes, I know those little cups are crappy for the environment. This is a personal blog post, as such, I'm exposing yet another of my weaknesses. Be gentle.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Just Write

Just write. That's all you have to do for this challenge. It's as easy and as hard as that, always. I'm cramming this week' posts into one morning of typing because I couldn't "find the time" to do them all week. Yes, I know. "Excuses."

I got back from my Ren Faire trip on Monday, and made it to a previously scheduled chiropractor appointment. I had quit going to the chiropractor a while back (ha, back) because I was feeling better. I had also had physical therapy, so I knew the exercises I had to do to keep my back  in shape. But a few weeks ago, in a Zumba class, I twisted in an odd way (not just the standard odd way I move around in Zumba--and, I was not wearing good shoes for Zumba dance) and felt my back go all out of whack. I figured I could "shake it off" as Taylor says, and maybe even twist it back the way it's supposed to go once I shimmied in the other direction. 


So I rested, keeping my workouts low-impact and resting and icing. Right before my trip, I decided it was time to go back to the chiropractor. The day after the first adjustment, I already felt 90%. Of course, walking the Faire grounds for hours a day didn't really help, so I was feeling it a bit when I went back Monday. So, it's going to take a few weeks, and then I will go on a maintenance program so my back doesn't forget again where all its parts go. 

I suppose that's the same with getting back into the flow with this writing thing. I had been on a pretty good course getting through that "muddy middle" of my memoir, and when I took a few days off I figured it was fine, I knew how to do this, I would get back to it and the words would flow. A few days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into a few months. And coming back is a little like getting adjusted. I have to press myself to do it, deal with the shock for a bit, and realize if I don't maintain, I will be back in the same mess I was before. 

My time is up. Grateful for bloggers back-dating function;) Thanks to those who have commented. Looking forward to catching up on your A-to-Z challenge blogs later today.


Monday, April 11, 2016

I is for Infused-- No, wait--I is for Improv

Well, I've spent at least 5 of my 15-minute limit for blog post writing trying to think of a word for "I'. I'm thinking there may be something to the theme method to this madness. 

After thinking and googling "I" words, I thought something may come out of the word "infused" although it may be hard to explain as it is one of those "inside jokes" (see that could have been the words for today, too) that made me laugh at the time, but may leave the reader going, "huh?"

As I moved my cursor to start this post, I realized, NO! I should not talk about the infused joke, I should talk about jokes themselves. I should talk about Improv. After all, if I would have written this yesterday like I was supposed to, I would have just finished a day (a full day, if you saw the H post) at the Ren Faire, where I had a chance to see one and a half shows of my favorite Improv group (crew?) the Motley Players. 

Since I've started being on the stage instead of in the audience, I notice I react differently to some of the scenes. I still laugh, a lot, maybe even more because I know how the mind is going in all sort of directions for those people and some of the places they end up is so surprising it shocks me. But I did notice myself hesitating to shout ideas out. This is very strange because one of the first rules I learned for performing Improv is not to censor yourself (especially since we do an 18+ show). But as an audience member, I wanted to try and give them something unique to work with, not the 'same ol' same ol'. I wanted them to be surprised so that it would force them into doing something so dissimilar to anything they've done before, they even surprise themselves. 

This is a lot of pressure to put on myself as an audience member. I wasn't the one performing. Luckily, the fact that I froze did not hurt the performance in any way. The audience had plenty of ideas, and all of us were given the gift of entirely new and unique scenes that made us laugh.

The moral of the story is: Don't second guess yourself. Go for it!

And, my time is up. Until next time:)

Maybe I'll save the Infused story for another time. Or letter. 
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