As we wind down on this years 52-week blog challenge, this week's writing prompt asks about what participants wear when they write.
The flippant answer is: "Clothes."
Seriously, though, I work from home. Nobody sees me, except for the occasional delivery person. The cats certainly don't care about my attire. The dog loves me regardless of how or whether I am clothed. The horses haven't expressed an opinion: they just want their treats and maybe a moment's attention. My husband generally doesn't comment: he knows better.
I wear what's comfortable. In warm weather, that's usually a loose, flowing dress or shorts and tee shirt. In the winter, it's jeans and a sweater. If the weather suits, I'll go barefoot; if not, then slippers and/or socks. Sometimes I even wear shoes all day.
I share the preference to go without shoes with my younger son. This is the kid who took Mama's words to heart when I told him about my own barefoot adventures with livestock: "It's easier to hose off your feet than to clean your shoes."
Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle, age, and a sluggish thyroid mean weight gain. So, many of my outfits don't fit any more. Last weekend I finally decided to start clearing out closets. I sighed over the pretty clothes I wore in my "skinny" days even as I acknowledged that I'll never again fit into them. It's a difficult and painful realization to admit to corpulence.
Which leads me to the medical profession and my distaste for its judgmental practitioners. A long while ago our family doctor shut down her small practice. I transferred to another physician who had the audacity to tell me to eat fewer cheeseburgers. I know I'm fat. That remark was really unnecessary.
I never went back.
So, I've abandoned fashion. I'm not going to lose weight. And I prize comfort above all when it comes to clothing.
Dressing to impress is for other people.
Writers, like professional athletes and gamblers, are rumored to be a suspicious lot indulging in odd, idiosyncratic practices and rituals that set them to the correct frame of mind and, if the powers that be are willing, ensure success. Just like I don't collect things or have any special (if useless) talents, I don't have any writing rituals, either.
Egad, how utterly boring I am.
I don't have a particular time set aside to write. I don't have a special place designated as my writing spot. I don't have any distinctive habits that must be performed to settle my mind or get me into the writing frame. I'm pretty random when it comes to my writing.
I write when the urge strikes me. Sometimes that's frequent, not so much other times. I once went around a decade without writing anything creative--just copy for my job. That was, overall, a pretty dark time of my life. Bitter cynicism permeated me, to the point at which I wasn't really joking when I said I sacrificed hope for Lent.
Although many writing experts advise aspiring authors to dedicate themselves to a daily habit of writing a certain number of words or for a certain length of time, even setting aside a scheduled "writing period," I never subscribed to that. I learned long ago that forcing myself to write produces utter garbage. If the story doesn't interest me, then I and my readers are better off if I simply abandon the project. Sometimes I return to an old project that recaptures my interest, but that seldom happens.
Those writing experts would probably call me undisciplined; however, I don't see it that way at all. When I write, I'm very disciplined. I follow the characters as they lead me through their journeys and self-edit along the way. When that draft's finished, I go through it again wearing my "editor's hat." Heaven forbid I deliver a rough draft to my editor. Finessing the manuscript as much as I can before she gets her hands on it keeps her rates at a level I can afford.
For what it's worth, those same experts also caution against editing as one writes. Customary advice says to vomit the rough draft and then go back and self-edit, basically leaving editorial judgment for the second draft.
Since I typically produce three or four novels a year, I'm comfortable disregarding their advice, because my undisciplined, random practice suits me just fine.
This week's prompt concerns strange or useless talents. Well, I suppose we're in for another week of short blog posts.
I can't think of any particular talent I have that would fall under strange or useless. Actually, one might consider me bereft of most talent, so I cherish the few that I do claim and refuse to call them strange or useless.
I can't dance. When I sing, dogs howl. My musical prowess leaves much to be desired. My drawing skills are considered better than most, but not good enough to take on the road. I have no particular gift for working with animals: what skill I have I worked hard to acquire. I tried pottery, a 6-week course. It was fun, but there was no real spark. If it's green, I'll kill it. So, gardening's out. I dislike digging in the dirty anyway, and I detest yard work. I'm not particularly insightful or perceptive, but a few folks have mentioned that I'm pretty good at cutting through bullshit. My mother taught me to sew--and do it well--but I loathe sewing. And embroidery. I'm also an indifferent (okay, awful) housekeeper.
Nope, I'm not particularly talented.
So, what can I do? I consider myself a decent cook, not great and nowhere near "Master Chef" caliber. But what I make usually doesn't suck. I consider myself a pretty damned good writer. Obviously. If I thought my writing skills were abysmal, I wouldn't be doing this for a living. I consider myself a good editor, too.
Yeah, I'm limited. And I hear voices. For instance, I heard my grandmother's voice on the way to her funeral. She never spoke to me again. However, the voices I usually hear are the characters who manifest in my books. My head's a crowded place. But that's probably not what one would consider a talent, just a psychotic disorder.
I'll be taking more art classes beginning this week, one class a month exploring different media and techniques. I'm looking forward to it. Perhaps I'll find that divine spark, that sense that yes, this is what makes my heart sing.