Saturday, September 21, 2013

Writing in the Midst of Life

Like many women (and men, too), I wear a lot of hats in my life. I'm a wife, mother, sister, and daughter. I'm a teacher. I'm a homeowner with a family so that makes me a taxi driver, a cook, housekeeper, pet care provider, academic tutor, maid, an event planner, a sanitation expert, and (sometimes it feels like) all around drudge and flunky.

That's not meant to be a complaint. I've made all the choices that brought me here and I love my family, my job and my home, even if they steam-roll me from time to time.

What it's meant to be is context.  This is the context in which I try to build a writing life. 

When I was a child and young woman, I imagined my life as a writing as full of long quiet hours of reading and contemplation followed by long quiet hours of productivity.  That, of course, is not my life.

But I need to write. I am downright cranky when I don't get that creative outlet.  There's a kind of joy I get in writing that I don't find anywhere else in life.  And, if I kept waiting for those long quiet hours to do it in, I wasn't ever going to write anything.

So I found a way to write in midst of life.  I committed to myself that I would write at least 250 words every single day. And I've done it. For more than 200 days. And writing in these smaller chunks is changing how I write.  I've always been more a pantser than a planner when I write. For those who know me and my infamous color coded google calendar, that's probably a surprise.  But, yes, in my writing, I'm all spontaneity. I don't know what's going to happen until I write and find out.

Maybe it's because I began my writing life as a poet, but novels don't come to me in huge sweeping outlines. I get a scene. A thought. A condition. Then I write to find out what's going to happen. Discovery writing. This is well suited to writing in short periods of time amid the chaos of home. It's almost like reading a serial novel.  I leave myself with a cliffhanger each day and come back the next day to find out what happened. But, I have to write it myself when I get there.

Yesterday, Patricia found out that Dr. Liu couldn't have been her kidnapper. Tonight, when I get to write, I'll find who the kidnapper was. I can't wait!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Jenna's Latest Prince

I participate in a community on Google+ called Writer's Discussion Group. If you're looking for a community of writer's to advise and support and encourage you, I highly recommend them.

A recent addition is weekly writing prompts.  I decided to play along today and give this one a go. The parameters were:
  • Use the picture
  • End with "once upon a time"
  • Use fewer than 600 words
Here's my story:


Jenna's Latest Prince

photo is by Ksenis Sazanovich (aka Otono Eterno)  

Jenna wasn’t sure about the whole cosplay thing.

Sure, she rocked the Snow White outfit as well as anyone could. Her dark locks and pale skin had people making that connection even when she wore regular clothing. She’d used it to her advantage in more than one dating situation. But actually wearing the costume made her feel strange.

It was fun, in a little girl sort of way. Playing dress up, twirling your skirt because you like how it moves. But she also felt sexy, and she wasn’t sure she liked feeling both things at the same time. It put her in mind of Lolita, an inappropriate mix of sex and innocence.   Was it cool? Or cheesy?

Bill was different than any other guy she had ever dated though. Given the mill she’d just been run through by the last guy, another type A corporate mover and shaker, Jenna was thinking that different was good.  There had to be something better out there. Bill’s world was very different from hers and she’d learned a whole new set of words to be a part of it, cosplay and LARPing being the newest.

Of course, she’d studied up on something for a guy she was interested in before. She knew more than she cared to about soccer, old cars, and French literature, for example.  And she really enjoyed many of the things Bill had introduced her to.

The anime festival last weekend was what had launched this foray into cosplay.  There had been lots of people there in costume and Jenna had commented on how much fun it looked like they were having.  So, Bill had invited her to go to a party with him. One of his old friends was having a fairy-themed birthday party and all of the LARP folks were going as characters.  It could be fun.  They could rent her a really elaborate costume at this place he knew.

So, there she was, posing in front of the mirror, a grown up version of the most childish of Disney princesses. She touched her fingers to the little white collar. A Peter Pan it was called. It was a style that adorned several of her childhood dresses. None of those dresses, of course, had featured bare shoulders and strapless blue silk. She also certainly would never have been allowed to wear such red red lipstick or such thick mascara as a girl.

She did like how she looked, though. She should quit worrying and just have fun.

The doorbell rang. She ran to answer it, still in her bare feet. There was Bill, in a white blousy shirt and tight black pants, adorned with a golden-handled sword worn at the hip. She’d only ever seen Bill wear jeans and tee shirts. Oddly, this look suited him. She smiled even more broadly. “You look wonderful!” she said, and found that she meant it.

He bowed, spreading his arms to the side, then stood and held out a bouquet of yellow daisies. “M’lady, I think you might want shoes.”

“Ah! Yes, I might indeed.” Jenna looked around the doorway, but didn’t see the black ballet-slipped style shoes she had chosen. “I knew where they were, once upon a time.”