Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Is Your Workplace an Inspiration or Distraction

While waiting for hubby, I stood at the tall window and looked out at the shrub garden. I miss using this office, I told Marv. I know I said it was too distracting. I spent more time watching the critters rooting through the mulch than I did writing fiction.
Do you ever notice them, I asked. He grunted and continued the two-finger pecking on his laptop.
Bunnies would stand on their hind legs eating the branches off the Burning Bush right before my eyes. Brazen as anything. It’s funny how that little boulder got so much attention. Even from the birds. They used it as a landing pad. I grinned, remembering. Mice and squirrels would sun themselves on it. Well, look at that. Right on cue. I laughed at a chipmunk appearing from beneath the Colorado spruce. He scampered up the side of the smooth round rock, settled himself, and began grooming. I continued with a play by play for my husband’s sake.
So he made it through the winter, Marv said. I wondered aloud if his mate did. We’ll know soon enough, he said. I continued watching. I miss this office, I told him again, as the chipmunk leaped off the rock. I followed his movements until he disappeared home. He lives under the front steps, I said.
I turned my attention to the birds. Far too many to count. They flew and flitted from bush to tree, branch to branch in a hectic search for the perfect nesting spot. So many birds passing each other in flight. The sound of their chirping was muffled but I could still hear them. Such excited chatter.
Look at that robin. She is fat, fat! And with all the activity in and out of the spruce, I think it will be an apartment complex again this year.

I believe the cardinals have found a spot in the climbing hydrangea. Remember when the doves nested there? For a few years and then they were gone. Marv’s answer was more of an urgent request to me. I couldn’t hear what he said, but I surmised he was trying to concentrate on something. I know what you mean, I told him. It’s like I said before, the office is far too distracting to get anything accomplished.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

When a Rejection is a Blessing

It was evident in the exchange of emails that the editor was losing patience. I returned the final draft with revisions. The ones I approved. Too many for my liking. I’d authorized changes that made me uncomfortable. They disguised my voice, altered my style, and bastardized my writing. I was trying to cooperate. A compromise, of sorts.
Don’t get me wrong. I can take constructive criticism. Not all the edits were unwarranted. He corrected the occasional mix up on tenses. Caught the odd awkward phrase. Yes, those edits were appreciated. Good catches. I also followed up on his suggestions for detail that added richness to the story.
Yet, it still bothered me. Colons, semi colons, and exclamation marks dotted the now overly-long paragraphs. Yikes (exclamation mark) Oh sure, I explained to the editor that I normally didn’t use this punctuation. And those short sentences were there for effect. You know. Tension. Fear. Panic. Hysteria. Oh well, whatever.
Preparing for a weekly critiquing session, I made copies of an excerpt from the edited version of the story and offered it to the group without explanation. After reading the piece, each member offered a personal line-by-line critique. The re-edited excerpt resembled my original submission. That made me feel better. And worse.
Several months went by.
I considered withdrawing my submission but the editor of the anthology had invested copious hours on my story. It was rather long at over 8000 words. I couldn’t do that to him. I reluctantly put the anthology to the back of my mind.
Nearly two years after the initial submission, I received the final email. (Un)fortunately, my story hadn’t made the cut. I felt giddy. It was the first rejection met with relief.
This drawn out process began with a request. Would I write a story for the anthology, he wanted to know. I declined. I was currently involved in another project. He was persistent and friends pointed out the obvious. Never pass up an opportunity.
My submission was received with a glowing appreciation of my work. He was impressed with the story. It would be pasted into the master manuscript. A couple of edits were suggested and approved. Then over the course of several months…well, you heard what happened. The simple explanation is my work couldn’t hold up with the other submissions arriving daily. I accept that.
Rejections are a part of a writer’s existence. Believe me, some of my earlier stories that made it to publication should have been edited. I wince when I read them now.
On the bright side, which is where I’m usually looking, I have a story that is now open to submission elsewhere. I’ll get right on that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Writers Always Write

            You asked if I still write my blog. The answer is …I’ll try to explain.
            For two or three years, I conscientiously blogged every week—without fail. Mostly I enjoyed it. Sure there was the odd Sunday night I wanted to crawl under the covers and listen to the crickets through the open window. But, no, instead I hunkered down at my desk in a windowless room trying to think of something—anything—to say in a blog post. 
            Now when people ask about my blog, I’m not sure how to respond (i.e. come up with an excuse) in fifty words or less. Of course, that’s always been my problem. The fifty words or less part.
            The fact is, I’m never sure what to blog. I write in my journal(s) on a fairly regular basis. I try to keep my Facebook Writer Page going with inspirational quotes and posters, interactive babble, book and movie reviews, my personal thoughts—embarrassing sometimes the way I bare my soul. I write a monthly magazine column—more babbling and baring my soul. And I just finished a birthday letter to my son. Actually, it started out as an informal chat but it’s definitely a letter—all 750 words. AND I still WRITE. You know, the fiction kind of writing. My passion that I scramble to find time to do. I haven’t worked on my novel for eons but I have been spitting out short stories.
            So, back to my blog. There are links on my site to all my First Monday columns. That’s something someone thanked me for recently. And I’m thinking hard about what I can put in a blog post that I haven’t already shared. The answer is, not much. 
          My hero bloggers post interviews, plug their favourite literary events, promote local happenings, and introduce new releases and elaborate launches. Hmmm...
           For now, I’m going to share things from a number of places, not the least being my mind, things that may or may not interest you. It’s up to you to leave comments.

            In the meantime, rest assured, that even when I get so frustrated that I want to scream and run away from everything to do with the writing and publishing world, I still can’t stop writing. I’m always writing. I’m writing write right now.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sons of Anarchy Review...sort of

Bikes, broads, booze, and bedlam.
Hubby and I just finished watching the series Sons of Anarchy. Every night for weeks we were riveted to the TV. Caught up in the street wars of a highly dysfunctional family and their followers. Lies. Lies. And more lies. Secrets too. Lots of them. That’s the entire premise of the show. 
By the time we got to the sixth season of the seven-season series, I was turned off by the senseless, tortuous killings. Blood and guts. It was over the top. They carried it a. bit. too. far. My opinion. It was a relief when the series finished. We were addicted to it! Now we have our lives back—at least our evenings. Even so, I wasn’t ready to let go. I went back to the Special Features of some episodes to hear the interviews and learn the how’s and why’s from directors and writers. Interesting stuff.
The writing was superb. Creator Kurt Sutter worked on The Shield series , which up to this point, was the most compelling edge of my seat what will they do next show we’d watched. It reigned over Breaking Bad, which was another well-written show. All twists and turns. Both series, The Shield and Breaking Bad, were totally unpredictable. Just like SOA. 
Many of the actors on SOA had starred in The Shield. Even our favourite crooked cop Vic Mackey played a small but important role in SOA. Way to go Michael Chiklas. C C H Pounder was also in there doing what she does best. Walter Goggins (Shane from The Shield) did an incredible performance as a transgender named Venus. You’d have to see it to believe it. Brilliant performance!
The lead characters of SOA were bang on credible and at the same time, incredible. Gemma, the matriarch, was a repulsive And compulsive liar and manipulator. If Gemma had disappeared from the scene, the series would have ended after the second season. So I guess that’s why she stayed on. That, and the fact she’s Kurt Sutter’s wife in real life. I hated her character. A middle-aged biker mama mincing around in tight jeans and stiletto boots intimidating everyone in her path, beating up cops, and killing… Oops. Yep, she did a great job with this role. Katey Sagal’s come a long way from Peggy Bundy and there ain’t no going back for her. 
Charlie Hunnam was spectacular as Jax Teller. Except for his English accent. He managed to hide it for the better part of the first four or five seasons. After that, it was painful to hear him speak his lines. Weird pronunciation you wouldn’t hear from a California biker or a Brit. It was distracting. Often annoying.
Some of the characters were lovable but all were misfits of society. Outlaws we loved and hated. Often within the same episode. No regard for life. Made emphatically clear when Jax ran over that poor bird leaving nothing but feathers across the pavement. Don’t freak out. It was a mechanical exploding bird. That was just one dead bird but as for their business associates, it was impossible to keep a body count for each episode. 

Even Jax’s oldest kid was a little twisted but the porn king and reformed junkie…wait… Some of you may want to watch the series, if you haven’t already. I could say SPOILER ALERT and tell you not to read the rest, but if you’re at all like me, you wouldn’t be able to resist. And it would ruin the entire show if I told you that the…
So...I guess...that’s it.