Friday, September 23, 2011

Things I don't do.

I'm just going to lay it all out on the table, here. I'm a terrible housewife. It's true. If I had to interview for the job, in the same way you interview for a paying job, no one would hire me. There are things I just don't do. Then, there are things I can do, but I do them poorly. There is nothing related to my daily job that I excel at or even do particularly well.

My housekeeping skills leave so much to be desired. I've heard other people say, "I just love to vacuum" or "I really get into a zone when I'm dusting" and I think, "You've got to be kidding me. People really enjoy this crap?"

I'm sure my mother could give you a list ten miles long of the half assed or utterly incompetent ways I clean. I do the minimal amount necessary to keep my house presentable. When that fails, I aim for whatever keeps the guys in the hazmat suits at bay. And I absolutely do not iron unless it is forced upon me like an unwanted sexual advance in a dank and dirty nightclub.

The only redeeming quality of housework is that I get to count the calories I burned. Today, for instance, I swept, did dishes, 2 loads of laundry, and steam cleaned the couch cushions. I merrily entered this "cleaning:light to moderate effort" into my smartphone app, knowing I could eat an additional spicy tuna roll tonight. Ah, the taste of victory.

Then there is cooking. I can cook and there are some things I cook very well, but I'd rather not cook. Alas, I'm stuck doing it three times a day. I've heard people say cooking relaxes them. I can't relate. In fact, the idea of cooking a three course meal as a means to serenity is preposterous. There is no time more stressful than that which is spent toiling away over a hot stove, chopping, dicing, stirring, and timing everything so that it doesn't burn.

"Then what DO you do, Annabelle?"

Funny you should ask. I've spent some time contemplating this subject myself. I have concluded that I am not defined by my housekeeping skills. They are irrelevant. My talents lie elsewhere and that is what makes me, well, me. I am an artist, a medium, if you will. I transcribe the words my imaginary friends give me. I tell stories of love and life, happiness and hatred, estrangement and esteem. I channel the sights, sounds, and images that belong to another person and weave vivid tapestries of the world that surrounds them. That is what I do.

Know what you're meant to do and do it well, I say! So, my friends, what do you do?

Monday, September 19, 2011

When I grow up...

When I grow up I want to say I'm a writer. I know, I can technically say it now because I am paid for writing in a professional capacity, but I want to say it in that "I know what I'm doing" kind of way.

I want to know what I'm doing and I want to be good at it. I mean, really good. The kind of good that makes people sob uncontrollably or laugh uproariously while they read my words. The kind of good that makes people say to their best friend, their neighbor, and their mechanic, "You have to read this."

My problem is, the more I worry about being good the less I write. It's tough to find balance. To know enough and yet not be burdened by all that you know. That's what a real writer can do. They can find that balance. I focus on too many imperfections and lose my mojo in my attempts to eradicate them from my writing.

This week alone I've been completely crippled by the word "was". It is such a crutch! A stupid little word that prevents me from writing the beautiful words that could, and should, take it's place.

I fight the urge to edit every single page I write, while I am writing it, and swear to myself I will save it for the word-building and editing phase. Again, this is where balance is paramount to success. If I get bogged down in editing as I go, the story will never advance and actually may never even be told. I really want to tell these stories because I know what I want to be when I grow up and I can't be a writer if the words never make it on the page.

So, do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Have any words of wisdom for me?

This week I'm reading "Alison Wonderland" by Helen Smith. It's, like, a grown up book. I know, I'm as shocked as you are! I'm sorry, I've failed lately at updating you all on what I'm reading, but I've been burning through books at two or three a week!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Writer's Block: Who's the bitch, now?

I've had writer's block since August. It may have started before the camping trip, maybe after, I can't recall right now because it felt like an eternity. The more I wished for that bitch to clear out, the more she dug in her heels. I tried to sit down and write, to force the voices in my head to speak again.

It was to no avail. I was stuck. The more I thought about it the more paralyzed I became. I considered starting a new story. I considered writing fanfiction. I considered giving up. All the while, the pressure mounted. How would I look my husband in the eye, in the face of his unending support, if the writer's block continued for months? Oh my Hell, what if it lasted a year? I have plans and dreams and I felt like I was watching them slip away from me, one tick of the second-hand-on-a-great Grandfather-Clock-in-my-head at a time. I did the only thing I could: I vowed not to write a single word for a week.

I don't have a cat, so that's not the problem.

The week passed, but the hand-wringing continued and the worry lines creased between my eyebrows deepened. Week two crept up on me and I continued my self imposed hiatus. Friends started asking if I'd made any progress. Each time I had to answer that I was still without words was like plucking my eyebrows. My eyes watered and my heart raced, and I knew I'd have to do it again. I had gotten to the point where my answer was curt and well rehearsed, laced with the implication that no further questioning was necessary unless you were ready to be done with child-bearing.

I'm not sure when it started. Thoughts trickling out of ink and lead onto napkins, notepads, and even the minute screen of my smart phone. It wasn't all the same voice. Two of my characters started to throw words at me, at times both perfect and inopportune. Sometimes phrases and sometimes in full sentences. Then, came the elusive full paragraph. It tapped it into the little yellow mock notebook on my phone. And I waited. I waited for her to tell me the rest of her story. I waited for redemption. It came today. Today was the day that the character whom had given me that fateful paragraph told me that entire scene. When she first began her flow, I stopped for a moment to wipe the tears from my eyes, partly to keep my daughter from asking if something was wrong (when really things were so, so right) but also because they were blurring my vision and making it hard to type as fast as the words were coming.

Fifteen hundred glorious words later I came up for air. (Take THAT writer's block. Who's the bitch, now?) Satiated and starved all at the same time. I couldn't get enough of the high that had evaded me for so many weeks. It's beautiful and lovely and altogether terrifying because I don't want to lose the flow again. For now, I'm going to shove that fear to the recesses of my mind and ride this high. I hope my husband understands if he is ignored for the next few days. I need this door to stay open and I need this character to keep talking, for a little while, at least. I also need a new laptop battery to keep up with her, so maybe you'll get another shopping post next week!