This week's writing prompt is "things I'm allergic to." Hoo, boy, that could go so many ways!
I'll start with the most prosaic: actual allergies.
Way back when in the middle of what appeared to be a nasty case of seasonal allergies, a doctor tested me for allergies. More than one person predicted I'd have to rid the house of my furry critters. I cannot tell you the relief and validation I felt when I learned that, no, I am not allergic to cats. I am particularly allergic to grass pollen, dust mites, and cockroaches.
I learned back in high school that I am lactose intolerant, which is basically an allergy to cow's milk. I tried goat's milk and ... ewww. That was nasty. I don't often drink milk or eat ice cream and limit consumption of cheese, because my body doesn't like them no matter how good they taste.
I've seen allergies affect horses, most notably HYPP, also called "Impressive Syndrome." Back in the 1990s, scientists finally confirmed what Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, and Paint horse breeders knew on an experiential level: many horses descending from the famous and wildly influential stallion Impressive had something wrong with them. Scientists discovered that something to be a genetic mutation originating with Impressive. Without going into lots of scientific detail I don't understand, HYPP is basically an allergy to alfalfa hay. Some horses are more allergic than others, with severely allergic horses suffering convulsions and even death from exposure to alfalfa.
Going on to the less prosaic, I'm allergic to idiots. Like those who don't suffer fools gladly, I have little patience with people who do and say stupid things with dismaying regularity. We all succumb to occasional outbursts of foolishness and silliness, but some people ... it's best not to get into detail, lest my already high blood pressure spike even further. Unfortunately, I probably fall within that category of idiot.
I'm also allergic to TSTL (too stupid to live) and doormat heroines and womanizing, abusive heroes. I don't understand the appeal of a woman who consistently makes poor decisions--especially those which put herself and others in danger--and holds on to her usually erroneous convictions with a pigheadedness to the point of terminal obstinacy. Such characters are those who do not learn or evolve.
Doormat heroines exhibit the opposite quality: they let everyone else run roughshod over over them. They exhaust themselves pleasing everyone else and trying to fulfill others' demands, not matter how unreasonable. They never stand up for themselves. When I encounter BDSM romance (which, by the way, I don't like), that type of personality tends to feature in heroines of those stories.
Then we come to the jerks, the cads, the so-called heroes whose words and actions lead one to think they could have written the Malleus Maleficarum. I understand the appeal of a bad boy: every woman wants to be that special woman who reforms the rake and turns him into a devoted, supportive husband. What I don't understand is the appeal of a man who views and treats women like toilet paper: good for one (probably disgusting) use only and to be used just the once. Add that attitude to a twisted pleasure derived from striking and confining women (cuffs, ropes, etc.) and my stomach turns. Ain't nothing sexy about that.
My allergies extend to poor writing. Sure, I freely admit that what I produce doesn't fall under the category of deathless prose. Much of it's pretty mundane and humdrum. But I know the proper use of apostrophes. I understand that good writing doesn't drone on and on in passive voice.
So, you have this week's regularly scheduled rant according to someone else's prompt. Next week, I'll discuss how my family survives my writing.
#HenHousePublishing #HollyBargoBooks #SpringfieldOHBookFair
This week's writing prompt fits in with the Halloween season: My biggest fear.
I'm not a brave person, never have been. As a kid, I feared getting into trouble, because punishment usually involved painful spankings and humiliation. That fear lingers. I don't worry about a physical whupping, but humiliation still burns. The older I get, the more I fear being hurt. Where I once might have faced off a fractious horse, I now duck aside because I am cognizant of my own mortality.
I suffer many fears large and small, most hidden behind a facade of reserve. Other fears I have no problem in expressing. I cringe and squeal like a coward when faced with wasps, cockroaches, spiders, and rats. On the first trail ride on Diva (aka "the monster"), I ducked, squirmed, and squealed as she plowed through every single spider web on the trail. The horse did a stellar job of concentrating on the business at hand rather than the idiot on her back. I couldn't fault her there.
I fear failure. Who doesn't? But I fail often enough that failure itself has become an old friend. It's almost comforting to know that, yep, once again just wasn't good enough. So, I'll lick my wounds and sulk for a while, then hoist myself up by my own bootstraps to try again.
Any author who doesn't get accustomed to failure will never succeed. At least that's what I tell myself. If I'm going to write--and I am--then the discouraging fizzle of book after book cannot prevent me from trying again with a new story, a new plot, maybe even a new genre.
But what's my biggest fear? I don't know. Perhaps it's the fear of disappointing those close to me or the fear of disappointing myself. Or something greater. I tend toward obsession and melancholy and must always guard against backsliding into acute depression. My younger son likes to state that writers have a higher rate of mental illness than other professions ... hint ... hint.
Some things are best kept private.
This week's blog challenge prompts participants to write about their favorite apps.
I associate apps with smartphones, something I neither have nor want. But apps, being the vernacular term for "applications," applies to desktop, laptop, and other handheld computers, too. So, I'll play.
For what it's worth, I dislike Microsoft Word, although I use it all the time. I really detest the way it assumes it knows what I want. I really liked WordPerfect, but that's just not a viable program anymore.
I'd included Amazon's Kindle, because that's how I read most books these days, but I've got the device and don't need to download the Kindle Reading App.
I have a love-hate relationship with Gmail. For some weird reason, it makes me login at least twice, if not three times, to access any of my email accounts. That's a nuisance and just darned irritating.
I do use social media, although I don't particularly like it.
Being more or less a technophobe, I have no great affection for computers, regardless of how much time I spend using them. They're tools.
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.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
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