Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Maybe It's Just in My DNA

I have observed before that the need to write is a strange compulsion, one that is almost impossible to explain to anyone who doesn't suffer from the same affliction. Despite the 80% or so of Americans who seem to think they could write a book, few seem to want to do so badly enough to bother. Those of us who do bother are...well...not normal.

Even if you aren't like me and don't feel compelled to do it, even if you don't turn into a complete monster bitch if you can't find the time for it, if you are actually writing a book, you are different from most of the people you know in your real life.

But while I was growing up, I didn't feel particularly different because I wanted to write the stories that careened like drunken butterflies in my head. Because, you see, I think my need to write might just be genetic.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned on the blog that my father, who passed away in the summer of 1998, was a writer. Primarily, he wrote articles for many auto racing magazines. He often joked he was a freelance writer with the emphasis on "free." But after he retired from the Border Patrol, where he was an anti-smuggling agent, he sat down and wrote two novels based on his experiences. Two wonderful novels which, as yet, remain unpublished. One of these days, I hope to get them out in the world. And he always said that he didn't write because he wanted to, but because he HAD to.

Like me, my younger sister wrote stories (in her case, mostly fantasy/science fiction stuff) from about the moment she could construct a sentence on paper. In my immediate family, the only person who didn't display this trait was my mother, but although she didn't write fiction, she read it voraciously (and still does!).

So, growing up in a household where 3/4s of the members suffered from the same "disease," I never felt particularly odd. I sort of assumed everyone told themselves stories in bed at night to put themselves to sleep and often found themselves preoccupied by snippets of dialogue between the imaginary people who lived in their heads. I probably didn't grasp the "unusualness" of my condition until I was in high school.

It wasn't until I was in high school or college that I learned the writing compulsion goes back a good deal farther in my family than I'd previously thought, and that I had it coming to me from both sides.

Turns out that my mother's father, a minister turned Psychology professor who died in 1958, years before my birth, also wrote a novel. (Among other things, I found the announcement of his marriage to my grandmother when I googled his name. It's here.) His novel was a mystery. And he didn't quite get to the end of it. I read the manuscript when I was in my late teens, I think, and I thought I figured out how the detective had determined "whodunit" and could've written the ending, but I don't think I'd ever have mastered his voice, so I didn't try.

And my father's grandfather was also a writer, though of non-fiction. He wrote non-fiction articles for Field and Stream magazine back in the early part of the 20th century, many of which were illustrated by my famous artist great uncle, Francis Lee Jaques. (I didn't get the artist gene apparently, drat it all. When my first son was born, I dreaded the first time he asked me to draw something for him. I was right to worry!)

Now, I'm sure most writers don't have ancestors who were writers. I just find it fascinating that there's such a strong thread of writing in my family. Arguably, I write because I patterned it from my father (except that I wrote fiction long before he ever did), but I doubt he patterned it from his grandfather (his father and grandfather were somewhat estranged) and I couldn't have patterned anything from my maternal grandfather, either, since he died before I was born.

So, maybe there is something in the genes.

What about you? Why do you think you write? Do you have any writers in your family tree? And do you think your desire/need to write was learned or is innate?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to You!

I'm off to Cub Scout Family Camp at Mataguay Scout Reservation with my family (and half our Pack!) this Saturday and Sunday night. I just finished packing up the car with the food (husband and Webelo son left an hour and a half ago with most of the camping gear) and after giving the cats more food and water and a quick pee, the two younger kids and I will be heading out.

I hope to get some writing done via the notepad method over the next few days, but fortunately, I managed to use a spare 45 minutes or so this afternoon to write about 300 words, and I have to say, I'm feeling much less bitchy!

Hopefully, everyone has a fun and productive weekend ahead. Best to all of you and please, keep those brave men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan in your thoughts and prayers. I know they'll be in mine.

I'll see you all on Wednesday. (Yeah, I'm taking a long weekend.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's All Been Done

I picked up the Barenaked Ladies' greatest hits CD on Mother's Day (the lazy woman's way out, I know--I should've read reviews and figured out which of their releases to buy instead, but...) and this song, originally on an album with the same title, really caught my ear. Perhaps the lyrics don't seem as engaging or clever without the music, but they immediately gave me an idea for a decidedly paranormal romance! See if they don't do the same for you.

It's All Been Done
by Steven Page and Ed Robertson, copyright 1999

I met you before the fall of Rome
And I begged you to let me take you home
You were wrong, I was right
You said goodbye, I said goodnight

It's all been done
It's all been done
It's all been done before

I knew you before the west was won
And I heard you say the past was much more fun
You go your way, I go mine
But I'll see you next time

It's all been done
It's all been done
It's all been done before

And if I put my fingers here,
And if I say "I love you, dear"
And if I play the same three chords
Will you just yawn and say

It's all been done
It's all been done
It's all been done before

Alone and bored on a thirtieth-century night
Will I see you on The Price Is Right?
Will I cry? Will I smile?
As you run down the aisle

It's all been done
It's all been done
It's all been done before

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Non-Writing Writer = Bitch

I'm sure you weren't expecting a Wednesday post from me, but you're getting one anyway. Verra late, to be sure, and likely short, but it's a post anyway.

You might remember a few weeks ago, I was angsting over the time I spend writing and feeling guilty about the time and money I "waste" on this pursuit. Well, this week, I've done next to no writing at all. I managed to finish up a scene on Monday afternoon (roughly 500 words of which I wrote that day) and since then, I've managed a sum total of eight sentences.

And you know what?

I am a complete and TOTAL bitch. Not only am I just plain tired (the class that I'm teaching this week is very heavy on lecture and instructor-led discussion and light on student practice, so I don't get much time "off-stage"), but I am pissier than hell because I haven't been able to write.

The bad news, of course, is that I'm a cranky, exhausted wreck. But the good news is, I feel so much more sanguine about all the time I normally devote to writing. When I don't, I'm a far worse mess than I am when I do.

'Nuff said.

P.S. Lyric Thursday will occur as scheduled. I have another Barenaked Ladies song to share. This one has sparked a story idea for me, which may not seem unusual to a lot of you, but what makes it unusual for me is that the idea is definitely in the paranormal realm, and we all know I normally don't do paranormal.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Crazy Week

Just popping in to say that this week's posting schedule may be interrupted as I'm teaching a class all week. Of course, this also means the writing schedule will be interrupted.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Fourteen

Okay, so there's this Thursday Thirteen blog thing that lots of folks are doing lately (Annie's WWND thirteen from yesterday is positively brilliant!), but since I have Lyric Thursday, I haven't been participating. But yesterday, Erica posted a Thursday Thirteen of her "beginning hooks" from Trevor and the Tooth Fairy. And that was a really fun read. Lacey followed up with a Thursday Twenty-Six of beginning and ending hooks from If You Asked the Devil to Dance.

Natch, this got me wondering how the scene hooks (both beginning and ending) in my books stacked up. I've never thought much about starting hooks. I think a lot about ending ones, though.

So, without further ado, here are fourteen scene-ending hooks from A Scandalous Liaison. In a couple of cases, there's more than one sentence for reasons that should be obvious.
  1. “I have a proposition for you, my lady.”
  2. “Mayhap their destiny is about to change.”
  3. Except that she might sneak a peek to determine the color of his eyes.
  4. All he had to do was convince one very pretty and very suspicious lady that he had her best interests and not his own at heart.
    Child’s play.
  5. “I assure you, Mrs. Ellis,” Rosalind continued, undaunted, “that Mr. O’Brien is quite harmless.”
    Or will be, provided I don’t actually look at him. Provided I forget he is by far the handsomest man I have ever laid eyes upon.
  6. A week suddenly seemed a very long time.
  7. He’d know in seven days what his punishment would be.
    It seemed a long time to wait.
  8. Whether her heart was safe from itself, she chose not to ponder.
  9. His virtue might not be in any danger, but hers very probably was. Perversely, the knowledge thrilled her.
  10. The only thing more dangerous than desiring the wrong woman was feeling sympathy for her.
  11. But maybe it was time he concocted a plan of his own.
  12. If he got through the next eighteen months without succumbing to temptation, he might prove himself more a gentleman than he had ever hoped to be.
  13. The closed box was all the more seductive, all the more entrancing, for needing to remain closed.
  14. Comprehension dawned. She was waiting for him.

Looking at my scene openings, I think I need to work on those. Maybe next week, I'll post scene opening hooks from Lady Libertine. I think the openings of the scene in that book are stronger than in A Scandalous Liaison. Maybe that means I'm getting better at this whole thing!

So, what about you? Do you think about scene opening hooks, scene closing hooks, or both? Do you try to make chapter hooks stronger than scene hooks, or do you try to make all of them equally strong?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Nipple to the Bottle

I think the album this song appears on, Living My Life, may be the best record hardly anyone owns. I gather it was more popular in the U.K. than here in the States. If it weren't for my husband, I never would have heard it, either. Until he introduced me to this album, all I knew about Grace Jones was that she was very tall, had very short hair, and possessed one great set of cheekbones.

This record opened my eyes, to say the least. (And I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to quote these lyrics to various people in my life!)

Nipple to the Bottle
by Grace Jones and Sly Dunbar, copyright 1982.

Colour and warmth came into your world
It makes me crazy
When you don't get what you want
You scream and you shout
You're still a baby

Don't give me a line
Keep the lid on the bottle this time
I'm still a lady
I won't do it tonight
I won't do it tonight
No way, baby

I won't give in and I won't feel guilty
Rant and rave to manipulate me
From the nipple to the bottle
Never satisfied
From the nipple to the bottle
Now the cow must die

Power and wealth surrendering myself
It ain't easy
Embarassing my store by opening up my door
When it's breezy
You showed me your force
Exaggerated stamina and energy

No place for that
No place for that
It's not that easy

Rant and rave to manipulate me
From the nipple to the bottl
Never satisfied
From the nipple to the bottle
Now the cow must die.

You ain't gonna get it
I ain't gonna give it
You ain't gonna get it
I ain't gonna give it

If I don't give it, how you gonna get it?
I ain't gonna give it, you ain't gonna get it,
If I don't give it, how you gonna get it? (fade)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Un-Mother's Day, Part II

From the comments, it appears there's quite a bit of support for Un-Mother's Day. A few of you with adult children pointed out that they grow up so fast, the day when every day is Un-Mother's Day will come all too soon.

And to that, I say, "Well, that's why we have Mother's Day!" To remind all those rotten adult children (ourselves included) that they have mommies. But for those of us in the thick of child-rearing (mine are 9, 7, and 5), Un-Mother's Day might be more appreciated. Because every day is still mother's day for us!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Un-Mother's Day

I had a lovely Mother's Day with my family yesterday. After church, my husband and kids took me to Borders where I spent an exorbitant amount of money on new CDs (yes, I'm still old-fashioned enough that I like the actual disc!) followed by a delicious late lunch/early dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. We also spent an hour or so with my mother-in-law, drinking coffee and eating copious quantities of See's Candies. (Okay, not really that copious. I was too full from my lunch/dinner.)

I tell you I had a lovely day because, if I didn't, you might misinterpret what I'm about to say as a complaint about Mother's Day. But it's not. I like Mother's Day. Mother's Day is a day to spend enjoying the fact that you're a mother and reveling in your family.

It's just that I also want a new holiday on which all mothers get to pretend, for one day, as if they were not mothers. One day to live completely, utterly, selfishly as though she had absolutely no maternal obligations to anyone. Footloose and fancy-free to do whatever she likes, whenever she likes. (And just to be clear, I'm equal opportunity here. I'm all in favor of a corresponding Un-Father's Day.)

Now, I suppose technically, I could request a day like that as my Mother's Day gift. But that seems rather petty to me. On Mother's Day, I want to pretend I'm not anyone's mother? I want to shut out my kids and go off on my own on the day I'm supposed to be celebrating my motherhood? Nope, doesn't work for me.

But sometimes, I do get tired of being the mom. I'm always on the hook to somebody for something. It's 24/7 and it never stops. So I'd love to have just one day a year when I could chuck it all and act as though my kids didn't exist.

I hope that doesn't sound as if I don't adore and appreciate my kids or that I'm sorry I had them. Because I do adore them and I'm not in the slightest bit regretful that I'm a mother. But for just 1/365th of a year, I think I'd enjoy being an unmother.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Drive-By Blogging

Sort of literally. I'm between dropping my oldest son off at piano lessons and picking him up fifteen minutes from now. But I gotta shoehorn it in because, darn it, I blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with Lyric Thursday as a bonus, and if I miss a scheduled day...well, let's just say I don't like to miss them, okay?

But if I'm so overwhelmed, as I said in Wednesday's little descent into Maudlinville, how come I put pressure on myself to blog three times a week? I mean, that schedule is completely self-imposed; it's not like ya'll are out there begging me, "Please, Jacqueline, post or we will wither and die without your wisdom." As if!

Several of you noted in the comments on Wednesday's post that blogging probably increases the pressure on us all because we feel the need to use our blogs as a way to get our names out there, promote ourselves, etc. And while I originally started this blog with those goals in mind, the truth is, I blog almost entirely for its own sake.

I find the interaction comforting. It's nice to share my thoughts and feelings with all of you, especially when you share yours back. I also find I can often talk myself through problems in a blog post in a way I otherwise can't, even in email with my friends and critique partners. Many times, when I'm struggling with something (as I was on Wednesday), your comments provide me with validation that I'm not just some loony suffering this stuff alone. And someday, I'm sure I'll look back on all these blog posts as a very special diary of a certain period in my life that I'd otherwise never have captured.

Above all else, however, I don't kid myself that this blog is some vehicle to launch my stardom. I know who most of my readers are and it's a pretty select group: my CPs, a core group of FanLitters, and a few other writers I've had the privilege to meet through other blogs. This is a fun way to keep in touch with all of you all, but it's not making me famous! And that's okay. For now, it's all it needs to be.

Today's question: If you blog, why do you blog? If you don't, why not?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Denial Twist

First things first. Things looked up a little bit yesterday afternoon, because I managed to squeak out about 500 words for the first time in days. And it felt SOOOOOO good. Yeah, baby, this is why I write!

Today's lyrics come from Jack White of White Stripes. Seems to me that there's no middle ground on White Stripes. Either you love them or you hate them. Personally, I love them. And part of the reason I love them is because the lyrics are often just so darned clever.
The Denial Twist
by Jack White, copyright 2005

If you think that a kiss is all in the lips
C'mon, you got it all wrong, man
And if you think that a dance was all in the hips
Oh well, then do the twist
If you think holding hands is all in the fingers
Grasp hold of the soul where the memory lingers and
Make sure to never do it with the singer
'Cause he'll tell everyone in the world
What he was thinking about the girl
Yeah, what he's thinking about the girl, oh

A lot of people get confused and they bruise
Real easy when it comes to love
They start putting on their shoes and walking out
And singing "Boy, I think I had enough"
Just because she makes a big rumpus
She don't mean to be mean or hurt you on purpose, boy
Take a tip and do yourself a little service
Take a mountain turn it into a mole
Just by playing a different role
Yeah, by playing a different role, oh

The boat, ya you know she's rockin' it
And the truth, well ya know there's no stoppin' it
The boat, ya you know she's still rockin' it
The truth, well you know there's no stoppin' it

So what, somebody left you in a rut
And wants to be the one who's in control?
But the feeling that you're under can really make you wonder
How the hell she can be so cold
So now you're mad, denying the truth
And it's hidden in the wisdom in the back of your tooth
Ya need ta spit it out in a telephone booth
While ya call everyone that you know, and ask 'em
Where do you think she goes?
Oh yeah, where d'ya s'pose she goes, oh?

The truth, well you know there's no stoppin' it
And the boat well ya know she's still rockin' it
The boat ya you know she's still rockin' it
And the truth ya you know there's no stoppin' it

You recognize with your back in the back
That it's colder when she rocks the boat
But it's the cause hittin' on the Cardinal Laws
'Bout the proper place to hang her coat
So to you, the truth is still hidden
And the soul plays the role of a lost little kitten but
You should know that the doctors weren't kiddin'
She's been singing it all along
But you were hearin' a different song
Yeah, you were hearin' a different song
But you were hearin' a different song

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wednesday's Child

You've probably heard this poem before:

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child that's born on the Sabbath day,
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

I was born on a Saturday, for what it's worth. But the reason this sprang to mind is that today's post does not promise to be an especially upbeat one. I am definitely feeling like Wednesday's child today. Now, I'm going to try to keep myself from sinking into actual woe and avoid a pity party, but Monday's positive outlook has been replaced by a cloud of crushing realities. And if you prefer me in my sunnier and funnier moods, I recommend coming back another day!

So, here are the things that have dampened my enthusiasm over the past few days.
  1. I'm overwhelmed. With work, family, writing, and with just day-to-day living (groceries, cooking, cleaning, laundry, even BREATHING seems like a chore lately). It's crushing me. And it's not like there's a piece I can jettison. Well, except for the writing, which obviously I don't HAVE TO do in any objective sense. Except that I have to do it for my sanity, which brings me to the next issue.
  2. I haven't been writing the past few days. After an awesome flurry last week, and despite the fact that the words are right there when I walk away from the computer, when I sit down to write them, I lose them. And this is because...
  3. I've lost my emotional space for writing. Because I'm so overwhelmed, I feel guilty about any time I devote to writing. This is not helped by the fact that my writing doesn't do anything for anybody except me (although maybe my CPs would kindly disagree by saying that it does something for them because they like reading my stuff, but this is supposed to a downer blog, remember?). However, given how overwhelmed I feel about all the other aspects of my life, it's hard not to ask myself why the hell I'm spending so much time on writing when:

    a) I haven't earned a dime at it.
    b) A realistic assessment of the probabilities suggests I will never earn a dime at it.
    c) I am spending what would otherwise be my family's discretionary capital to support this habit for things like contest entry fees, mailings, web hosting, and--the big Kahuna-conference fees, travel, et.c for National.

    This leads directly to #4.
  4. I was hoping to send out some query letters this week. Some with partials, some without. And then, after I got a very insightful and helpful critique on my query letter from the inimitable and exceptionally talented Annie Dean, I thought, "What the hell am I doing? I could write it exactly as she suggests and the query letter would be fabulous. But do I have a fabulous manuscript to go with it?"

    Answer, obviously, was no. Because, while I have a good partial, the current version of the manuscript has several fairly large holes in it where I slashed and burned scenes and now have to reknit everything back together. A task I have been slacking in favor of writing Lady Libertine because I find writing from scratch infinitely more enjoyable than revising.

    So, let's say I got a request for a full from someone to whom I sent a partial? What then? I'd be scrambling like a madwoman trying to put something together and I'd know it wouldn't be as good as it would be. And what's the point of sending an agent/editor anything less than the very best manuscript I have to offer (when I finally have it to offer)? Obviously, there isn't one!

    This internal dialogue led me to ask myself why I was in such an all-fired hurry to query when I know I'm not ready. And I know. It's because if someone requested my full from my partial or my partial from my query, I'd feel in some sense validated. Like this whole writing thing isn't some gigantic time-and-money sucker that's sapping the emotional life out of me and, by extension, my family.

    But that is a suck-ass reason for trying to sell my book before it's ready to be sold. It's a suck-ass way to validate what I'm doing with my time, money, and emotional energy. If I can't think of a better reason for writing than to prove my writing is worthwhile by some external measure, it probably is a waste.
So, after drenching my CPs' shoulders yesterday with my woes, I came to the conclusion that it's time for me to step back and just let stuff come when it's ready. No more forcing it. If I'm ready to pitch at National, I'm ready. I have my editor and agent appointments, but if I know for sure what I have just isn't up to snuff, I'm cool with canceling them and letting someone who's in a better place have my slot. I'd like to be ready, of course, but I'm not going to pressure myself to have something ready.

Because it's the self-pressure, along with the self-doubt that goes along with the need for external validation, that's sucking the joy out of writing and that, in turn, is sucking the joy out of everything else. I have to write to be happy. That's all I need to know to "justify" doing it. The other stuff will happen when it's good and ready to happen. Forcing it will only make me miserable.

Settling in with all of this hasn't been easy. When I was a teenager and my family got a piano, I gave up on piano lessons very quickly because I didn't want to learn to play piano--I wanted to play it. Now, damn it! But just like learning to play the piano, learning to write a book takes time and practice. You can't rush it. Good things come to those who wait.

So perhaps Wednesday's child should be full of wait.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Good Comes in Twos

And maybe, if we're lucky, threes or even fours!

I'm sure Erica will post this on her blog herself, but if I'm faster than her, all I have to say is "Neener, neener, neener!" Today, she got a request for a full of Trevor and the Tooth Fairy. This upon the agent's reading the partial. Yeehaw! This is sooooo awesome.

Tomorrow (if not sooner), we'll find out about Darcy and the Four Seasons.1 And later this week, I hope to be a doing a bit of querying and partialing myself.

Things are rolling, folks, rolling.

On the downside, I've only written a paragraph today. Which is why this promises to be a short blog post.

Over and out!

1This used to say "three seasons." Darcy asked which one they got rid of. My answer? Hey, I live in Southern California. You're lucky I think there are as many as three seasons!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Start Speadin' the News

Warning: Bonus post!

I'm just pleased as punch to be the first (I think) to announce that my CP (and dear friend) Darcy Burke's manuscript, Glorious, placed second in the Yellow Rose Chapter's Winter Rose contest. We just got the news earlier this afternoon and I am absolutely ecstatic for her. Glorious is such a great story, told with both humor and sensuality, and if it were up to me, of course it would have finished first, but second is just fabulous.

So big congratulations to Darcy and wish her luck on Tuesday, when we'll find out whether or not Glorious also finaled in the Four Seasons contest.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Incoherent Ramblings

I promised a post full of caffeine, alcohol, and sleep-deprivation induced ramblings, and as always, I aim to please. And so, in no particular order (because if they were in some sort of order, it wouldn't be incoherent, would it?), here are my observations for today.

  • If you forget to do your homework the night before, you can always get it done twice as fast if you wait until morning. (Bad Mommy forgot last night. The kids got their assignments done in record time before school. Bad Mommy wonders if she should be bad more often...)
  • No matter how many times you tell a nine-year-old to a) bring his shoes in from beside the trampoline, b) close the gate, and c) feed and water the cats, he will always act as if the first time he has ever heard any of these commands.
  • You can kill a story by over-analyzing it. Yes, the characters need GMC and an arc. Yes, their actions have to make some kind of sense. But people's feelings aren't always rational. And romance is an emotional genre. Sometimes, the characters feel and do things that don't seem logical. And they shouldn't have to.
  • Since I had wireless enabled on my laptop yesterday, I discovered I have access to several wireless networks in my backyard. None of them are mine. But I can connect to them. Way cool. If slightly unreliable.
  • My house is a dirty, disgusting mess. I should clean. I will clean. Someday... Maybe when I finish writing my book. Any of them.
  • Updated: As further proof of my incoherence, I had to come back and add this one. I've realized my heroes are not tortured. Pained, perhaps. A little bit twisted, maybe. But not tortured. I just don't do tortured. Methinks I see I problem...

Okay, that's all for today. What incoherent ramblings would you like to share with me? I'm

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Man Out of Time

I have to say, this one pretty well speaks for itself (although I can't believe it's taken me this many weeks into Lyric Thursday to get to Elvis Costello--the man's a freakin' poetic genius!). If you're looking for the song itself, it's on the classic 1982 release, Imperial Bedroom.
Man Out of Time
by Elvis Costello, copyright 1982

So this is where he came to hide
When he ran from you
In a private detective's overcoat
And dirty dead man's shoes

The pretty things of Knightsbridge
Lying for a minister of state
Is a far cry from the nod and wink
Here at traitor's gate
'Cause the high heel he used to be has been ground down
And he listens for the footsteps that would follow him around

To murder my love is a crime
But will you still love
A man out of time

There's a tuppeny hapenny millionaire
Looking for a fourpenny one
With a tight grip on the short hairs
Of the public imagination

But for his private wife and kids somehow
Real life becomes a rumour
Days of dutch courage
Just three French letters and a German sense of humour
He's got a mind like a sewer and a heart like a fridge
He stands to be insulted and he pays for the privilege

To murder my love is a crime
But will you still love
A man out of time

The biggest wheels of industry
Retire sharp and short
And the after dinner overtures
Are nothing but an after thought

Somebody's creeping in the kitchen
There's a reputation to be made
Whose nerves are always on a knife's edge
Who's up late polishing the blade
Love is always scarpering or cowering or fawning
You drink yourself insensitive and hate yourself in the morning

To murder my love is a crime
But will you still love
A man out of time

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


This morning, my husband left for the AIA Conference in San Antonio. Although I'd rather hoped to go with him (or that the entire family would go), all the hotels apparently booked up right away, and he has to room up with his business partner. So, much as I love San Antonio, I'm stuck here with the kids and the cats and my work and my writing.

Hold the phone! He's gone until Saturday night? That's almost four full days during which I can write whenever the mood strikes me (provided the kids don't need to be fed, put to bed, or kept from killing themselves or one another, of course). Woohoo!

Okay, I don't want to give the impression that I'm happy my husband's gone. I'm not...exactly. But a spousal relationship does require a certain amount of effort and spending time together, and the muse has a tendency to want to get in the way of that. For some nonsensical reason, my husband doesn't feel my sitting with the computer in my lap while my hands fly furiously (or slowly) across the keyboard while he sits next to me watching the baseball game counts as quality together time. Gosh darn it, he wants my attention!

And of course, I can't blame him. It does not please me at all when he spends the entire evening after work doing something solitary, even if he's sitting right next me while he's doing it. If I don't feel included in whatever it is he's up to, I might as well be by myself. Writing is an essentially solitary experience. You can share the end product with another person, but unless you're one of those rare people who actually writes with someone else, you can't share the act of writing.

For those of us who came to this calling rather late in life or came back to it after a long hiatus, I suspect it's especially difficult for our significant others to adjust to the demands writing makes on our time and (perhaps more profoundly) our attention. I know if I'm feeling the next scene in my story and desperately want to write it, it's nearly impossible for me to be fully engaged in any conversation or interaction with an actual live person who happens to be nearby; the people in my head can scream so loudly for attention at times, they sometimes drown out the real people in my life.

Because I didn't write for so many years, I sometimes feel I pulled a bit of a bait and switch on my husband. I have plenty of faults my husband had ample opportunity to take into consideration before he married me, but my tendency to withdraw into the world inside my head wasn't one of them. And truly, he's NOT against me writing; he'd just rather I didn't do it during our time. That's something I have to respect, because I know I'd feel the same way if he came home every night, shoved his dinner down his gullet, then ran upstairs to hole up and draw architectural plans or paint or do some other hobby that excluded me!

But it also means that when either of us goes on a business trip, I have this tremendous sense of freedom when it comes to writing. Because there's no opportunity for we time, all my free time is me time, and I can do with it what I want.

And so for the next several days, I plan to gorge myself on writing. Oh yeah, I'll do all the necessary stuff. The kids will get to and from school, they won't starve, they'll go to bed on time, and they might even get the odd bath and bedtime story. And I'll get my work projects done. (I have a nasty one due tomorrow that involves writing blurbs for conference sessions, many of which cover topics that can't be fully nailed down for months because the software's in flux. Hmm, how'd I get chosen for this job? We all know I suck at blurbs and hooks!)

But other than that, I'm going into full writing gluttony mode for the next three and a half days. Who needs sleep? That's what caffeine's for! Who needs food? That's what beer's for!

See you all for Lyric Thursday tomorrow (I think Elvis Costello is on the agenda) and probably some incoherent ramblings on Friday (because by then, I'll be running entirely on the caffeine and beer of which I spoke)!