Friday, July 27, 2012

Oh Brother

I’ll never forget my 7th Christmas.
It was the year I learned a very painful truth…
Santa was NUTS.
I mean, CLEARLY the man with the bag had a break from reality when he left the GINORMOUS squeaky hammer for my little brother.
That hammer was as long as my brother was tall – but unfortunately light enough for him to wield with ease.
And when you are two, and you’ve got a big hammer…
Everybody looks like a nail.
I told you it was a painful truth.
I shudder with the memories of that winter – the dawn to dusk, squeaky terror of it all.
But that was a long time ago.
I think I’m over it.
Sure, I can’t listen to Peter, Paul, and Mary’s If I Had a Hammer without flashbacks –
But when I hear a squeak, the twitch is no longer noticeable.
Anyway, my little brother is older now.
In fact, he’s another year older TODAY!
So he’s old enough to be trusted with squeakified weaponry. 
And old enough to be the Whac-A-Mole grandmaster of the universe.
He’s even old enough to have a little boy of his own…

A little boy who might want something extra special for Christmas this year.
Maybe something smashingly BIG…
or super duper squeaky.

But I’m over it.

PROMPT: Baby Brothers are the BEST! And a picture book is the perfect way to celebrate their peskiness today. Get inspired by Mercer Mayer’s Just Me and My Little Brother or The First Rule of Little Brothers by Jill Davis and Sarah McMenemy. Then create one of your own. If you’re lucky enough to have a baby brother, trust me, you’ve got LOTS of material.

Have a wonderful birthday, little b! J

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Feeling the LOVE

I am in the muddy middle of revising a novel. Scratch that. If you know me, you know that I’m in the very clean middle of revising a novel. And so I’ve been collecting some quotes about rewrites and revisions to inspire me along the way.

Here’s one –

Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.
~ Bernard Malamud

Was Bernie a junkie?

Surely he had to be high on something when he said this. I am not finding revision to be an exquisite pleasure. Perhaps I am doing it wrong.

However, I know deep down that the following is also true:

Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, and intensify scenes. To fall in love with the first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing.
~ Richard North Patterson

Thanks, Rich. I know you’re right. In fact, I do spend a LOT of time rewriting as I move along through a piece. I have to. My writing method is basically barfing on the page – so I spend ages cleaning it up. I realize that this is probably not an image you’re enjoying right now, but it’s true. And here’s a bonus tip – if you’re trying to get 9-year-old boys to enjoy the act of writing, they LOVE it when you tell them to barf on the page. Works. Every. Time.

And speaking of cleaning things up...

Rewriting is like scrubbing the basement floor with a toothbrush.
~ Pete Murphy

Well, Pete, we all know that I don’t need any encouragement in the cleaning department. That basement floor sounds like the perfect procrastination place for me.

But today I’ll cast aside that basement-scrubbing toothbrush and pick up the red pen instead. Who knows what I’ll have to show for it. It may go something like this –

This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again.
~ Oscar Wilde

But I’ll try to remember this –

The great thing about revision is that it's your opportunity to fake being brilliant.
~ Will Shetterly

And maybe, just maybe, today will be the day that I find that exquisite pleasure.

But I’m not placing any bets.

PROMPT: Misery loves miserable company. So get out one of those old manuscripts you’ve stashed in a drawer. Yeah, I know you have one. Rework it a bit today – take out a few commas, then put them back in just for the joy of it. Trust me, we’ll all feel better in the end. I may not like the act of revision, but I LOVE that glorious thrill of having revised.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Here Kitty Kitty

Born to be Filed

What is it about cats?
They seem to have some kind of hypnotic hold on people.
Case in point –
I am a Facebook user. And when I make an occasional post, I’ll get one of those thumbs up “likes” from my sister – not because I’ve actually posted anything brilliant, but because she’s my sister and sisters do that sort of thing.
However, one day my cat was being his wacky cat self, and so I snapped the photo above and posted it.
Within 11 seconds I had about 87 “likes.”
It was weird.
And just because I’m a bit wicked, on Friday the 13th I posted this:

Again, my page was on FIRE with likes and comments. You would have thought I’d cured cancer or something.
Cats cast a spell, to be sure.
In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if cats had something to do with Facebook development. It’s quite possible that they implanted the entire social media concept into Zuckerberg’s brain just so they could spread their bad grammar messages more quickly.
And then cats being cats, they chuckled little mwa ha ha’s into their paws when they caused the FB IPO to tank.
It’s the way they roll.
Just witness how a cat pat, pat, pats at a new object and you’ll realize –
They come into this world fresh from a very hot place.

But we love them anyway.

PROMPT: Get catty today. Draw ‘em, sketch ‘em, paint ‘em, or write about ‘em. Better yet, pair ‘em with bad grammar and post them on the Web. “Like” button resistance is futile.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Peace, Love, and Albert

Back in 1931, Albert Einstein was invited to give a lecture at Oxford, and he happily obliged.
When he was through, they wrestled the chalk eraser from his hand and slapped a sheet of plexiglass on top of his furious scribbling. Now it hangs on the wall of their Museum of the History of Science so folks can ogle at it.
I have no idea what the lecture was about, although we can make an educated guess that the subject was Relativity. However, I like to imagine that Albert was really talking about his formula for a Delightful Life (hence the big D).
If this was indeed the case, I’m pretty sure the other variables would be as follows:
P = Peace
t = Thinking
C = Creativity
K = Kindness – or possibly kangaroos. Kangaroos are always delightful.
L = Love
a = aha!
That squiggly thing that sometimes looks like an “S” and other times looks like an “e” – I think that stands for maintaining a firm belief in magical possibilities.
And the y = “Why? Because I said so, and I’m Albert Einstein!”

I love Albert Einstein. He was AMAZING. And yet he was not the kind of scientist who spent his time laboring away in a lab. He was a theoretical physicist who spent most of his time in a chair… thinking.
Yeah, he did lots and LOTS of thinking.
And he said this about it:
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking
we used when we created them.
That quote has been my creative thinking mantra for a long time. Feel free to use it, too – whether your problem is a plot twist or global warming.
Creative thinking is the answer.
The question is relatively irrelevant.

PROMPT: Find a chair. Sit. Think. Bonus points if you play the violin – Albert loved the violin.