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.
Y'all are in for another short entry into this week's blog challenge. The prompt this time is "odd things that I collect."
You see, except for dust bunnies, I don't collect anything.
In my teen years, I collected bookmarks. I have no idea where any of them are. As an older teen and in my early twenties, I collected Ghost Rider comics. I have most of the first series of 80 issues, including all of the first 10 issues. Geeky, yes. However, I haven't added to the collection in decades. It sits inside a cedar chest waiting for someone to once again show interest in the improbable melodrama of Johnny Blaze.
I love art glass, but my house is short on storage space and I can't afford to indulge that particular greed. Some who know me might claim I collect cats: I have six. Five live in the house and one is a "working" cat. She controls vermin in the barn. I don't consider six cats an extensive collection, especially when I have a cousin who has 40.
I like earrings, too. Attending the Fair at New Boston with a friend a couple of weekends ago, we looked at period-accurate jewelry. I pined after a few pieces, but said that I didn't need any. So, I didn't buy any.
For a while, some folks accused me of collecting alpacas. At one time I had a decently sized herd, but it was paltry in comparison to those kept by the professional breeders and showmen. I'm down to just one elderly llama now.
I never considered myself a collector of horses. I have two, soon to be three. (Sage is coming back.) I know people with many more than that.
Perhaps I collect books. The "to be read" pile loaded within my Kindle grows almost daily and I will never catch up to reading everything I download. But I can hope.
So, no, there's nothing I really collect, at least nothing odd. Except, maybe, delusions of grandeur.
This week's blog challenge prompt is "My theme song."
I often listen to music as I work, whether writing or editing. Sometimes, I tune in to my favorite stations on I Heart Radio. Other times, I head to YouTube, cue in a favorite song or band, and let 'er roll. I've come across several previously unknown musicians and tunes that have been incorporated into an evolving play list, like Five Finger Death Punch. Of course, YouTube's capacity to allow for selection of specific songs and musicians means I can tune into old favorites, like Eagles, Carly Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, and Enya. I often listen to classic rock, Top 40 hits, and a few lesser known musicians like Theory of a Deadman and Hozier. I enjoy country music and Celtic folk music, too.
But this article isn't supposed to about what I listen to, but what song defines or describes me: my theme song. That tends to vary, depending upon my mood on any given day. However, I like to give this answer: "It Don't Come Easy" by Ringo Starr.
The title of the song defines my life, because nothing has really ever come easily for me. I work hard for what I have, whether it's a possession or a skill. For instance, it takes months to earn sufficient disposable income to purchase a horse for which I have hired a trainer because she's not well trained enough for me and because I haven't the skill to finish her training myself. One might suppose that I've a history of jumping into the deep end without a life jacket only to find myself overfaced.
One might be entirely correct.
Back in college, I pretty much skipped the 200-level courses, instead jumping into the 300-level courses because I found the subject more interesting. Despite the more rigorous academic expectations of those courses, I did pretty well. I worked hard at it, though. Nothing came easily.
Since the end of 2015, I've been building a freelance career as a writer (ghostwriting, too) and editor. That hasn't gone smoothly nor has it been without its disappointments when I took on gigs that overwhelmed me or for which I had to admit required more from me that I was prepared to give. Learning experiences all.
So, no, it don't come easy for me. But easy isn't always the path to accomplishment or contentment. I dare not say happiness, because happiness is always ephemeral. At this point, I've attained a general sense of satisfaction with myself. Sure, there's always more to learn, but I have acquired a better sense of myself, of what I can do and what I will do.
Some of us know where we belong in life, what we were always meant to do and the path we must take. Others are destined to wander, because life don't come easy.
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 wanting to Blog Swaps in 2018. For more information:
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