Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How To Tell If Your Day Is About To Turn Ugly

Let's just say you were looking forward to a calm Sunday with your family, a little sleeping in, a little church, a little day off from the cares of the world. Sounds good doesn't it?

I thought so, especially the sleeping in part--until Kid D woke me up Sunday morning with this, "Mom, there's water dripping from the ceiling. Inside!"

That, my friends, is how you know your day is about to head south. Fast.

There are some things you can sleep through and deal with later like: the sound of cartoons in the other room, the sound of kids getting their own cereal, or even Kid D saying, "The cat threw up on the floor." The last one makes you groan, but at least you know it's not going to get worse, the deed is done after all. But you can't sleep through water dripping from the ceiling because it is going to get worse. A lot worse. And because it is not supposed to rain inside.

And that rain should never come from the toilet.

Toilet rain is just ugly.

And it doesn't get any prettier when coming through your basement ceiling in bucketfuls after collecting on the main floor bathroom like some sewage-tinged wading pool.

Oh, and water isn't that much better when it sprays out of your main water shut off valve in addition to spilling from the toilet. Just saying.

Sigh, I guess you could just say we have an affinity for toilets. And water. So much for sleeping in.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Telling Stories, Kid History, and Why Am I So Much Buffer Than You?

Have you ever noticed that kids know a lot about telling stories? They seem to have a inner sense about it--about using dialog, conflict, employing interesting characters, and killer voice. They have skills. Mad skills.

Here's a few examples from YouTube. There are six Kid History episodes so far. Each one is better than the last, and they all teach us great things about telling stories while being down right entertaining.

Aren't they good? And don't you have the strangest desire to go around asking people, "Why am I so much buffer than you?" Or telling them that, "Girls are mermaids. Some boys are mermaids, too." I know I do.

What did you learn about telling a good story?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recipe for Writing

My friend Cherie at Herbivore Meals is doing thirty-one days of meal planning on her blog.

Sound great?

It is, even though it's been hard for me to embrace new meal ideas. Just so you know, I have a long standing feud with meal planning. Well, it's more like I have a problem with trying new recipes. We're like strawberry ice cream with chili topping--we don't go well together. Why? Because the new recipe is new. It's different. It takes work and thought and effort. It takes me out of my comfort zone, and my comfort zone for cooking is pretty narrow.

I've never loved cooking. Ever. It's like cleaning the toilets. Really. Why? Because it has to be done or things go south. It just gets stinky if I slack off in the bathroom, but if I skip making dinner a few times people die of starvation. Ack! The pressure!

I have about ten things I cook on a regular basis, from homemade spaghetti to wheat bread from scratch. And what goes on the table tastes pretty yummy, if I do say so myself. (I never said I couldn't cook. I just said I didn't like to.) The only problem is, when you eat spaghetti every week for twenty years you start to think: Meh. Or even: Double meh. Or even: Maybe I'll go clean the toilet.

So, lately I've tried to branch out, add new things to the old rotation, because who wants to be thinking about toilets while they eat? And in my efforts to branch out, I've--shock of all shocks--experimented with new recipes.

Some of them have resulted in a chorus of yums. Others...yeah, not so much, especially the time I ACCIDENTALLY dumped a cup of brine into the casserole I was making. Just so you know, brine doesn't taste good. EVER. Who knew that the people who make roasted peppers bottle them in brine instead of water? I mean really. This was so not my fault. Oh, and you probably shouldn't cook when your mind is off conversing with characters from a book, just saying.

The point of all this is, it's been good to get out of my rut. It's been good to try new things. And even if the family is a little hesitant when something different shows up on the table...and even if they all ask me if there is brine in it, they've liked the change. And I've liked the change.

What does this have to do with writing? Plenty. How many of us are in a writing rut? Do you sit down to write and think: Meh. Maybe I'll go clean the toilet?

It's time to change things up, to get a new recipe. Grab your computer and leave the house. (Yes, you can do this. It's called living.) Go to the library, bookstore, or park and spend a couple of hours working there. The change in scenery will do you good.

Go somewhere without internet access--you might go into withdrawls, but Google will not die without you. And, no, you won't die without it either. I promise.

Call a writing buddy and arrange a writing date.

Start a new project, or pull out an old one.

This doesn't mean you can't eat spaghetti anymore, it just means sometimes you need a change. And yes, sometimes you might eat some brine as you try new things, but the yums are worth it.

What are you going to do to shake it up today?


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