Friday, October 19, 2012

Have a Ball

My daughter does not like sports movies.

Actually, she hates them.

“It’s a plot problem,” she says. “They are ALL the same. You’ve got your ragtag underdog with ‘issues’ up against the Big Dog with all the money and talent – and shock of all shocks (she says making a big ‘O’ with her mouth), the underdog WINS!”

“Yeah,” my son pipes up. “You never see the underdogs go in there and get CRUSHED! You never hear the big dogs in the post-game interview saying, ‘Man we coulda beat ‘em by WAY more than 200 points if it hadn’t been for that dang mercy rule.’”

As for me, I am a sucker every single time. I LOVE sports movies. Just the thought of Hoosiers, Rudy, or Secretariat makes me grin.

Well, our family actually experienced a few sports movie ingredients this week.

You see, our local high school doesn’t have a tennis team. It’s small and rural and doesn’t even have tennis courts. It has a parking lot... and a lot of Trans Ams.

So, what do you do when your son loves tennis, and it’s the only sport he wants to play? Well, you leap hurdles and jump through hoops, provide a ton of transportation, and get special permission for him to play with another school's team as an exhibition (non-scoring) player. At least that’s what we did.

And it was worth it. Throughout the two-month season, my son had a lot of fun doing something he loves to do. End of story. Well, not quite…

Two weeks ago, we were informed that my son is his high school’s #1 player (um…he’s their only player, like, ever), and as such, he would be competing in the district tournament.


So, this week my son donned his mom-designed uniform (actually, that was wicked-cool) and traveled two hours to the district meet. He had a goal of winning just one game.

As sports movie luck would have it, my freshman son with no coach and no team (but a wicked-cool uniform) was paired with the senior Big Dog who happened to be the #1 player in the district.

And guess what!

The Big Dog CRUSHED him!

The score was 6-0 and 6-0.

So, my son regrouped for match #2.

Well, he didn’t achieve his goal of winning just one game – he won 13! He even won the second set of the three-set match. And it was some grueling dueling – nearly two hours of play before my underdog pup was defeated.

But he came off the court grinning – looking forward to the next three years as his school’s #1 player.

And by the time he’s a senior, I’m putting my money on one thing for sure –

His sister is going to be really ticked off when the film crew shows up.

PROMPT: Get your game on! Write a sports story today – go all made-for-TV movie or skip the formula and throw ‘em a curve by thinking outside of the boxing match. You’re sure to have a winner!
Go team!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Got Music?

This just in –

Dogs do not like Anthrax and Iron Maiden. They think these bands stink, paws down.

A recent study by a Colorado State University professor investigated how shelter dogs responded to various styles of music. Clearly canines are not head bangers – heavy metal music actually produced nervous shaking in the pups. However, classical tunage from Mozart and Chopin calmed curs even more than no music at all.

Meanwhile down on the farm…

It’s been noted that cows show a preference for Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony by cranking out more milk than when they’re forced to listen to Wonderstuff’s Size of a Cow.

And does anyone remember those plant studies from the ‘70’s? Sorry, Hendrix, but philodendrons are not your friends. They lean away from speakers pumping Purple Haze, but move in as close as their little plant feet can get them to those far out fugues by Bach.

Heck, even microbes have been shown to feel the classical music love. They consume more sludge to the beat of Mozart's Magic Flute than when they are forced to sludge in silence.

And so, it should be no surprise to you that music affects the human clan as well. One study done in 1998 found that listening to grunge increased the hostility, tension, and sadness of subjects. Another experiment yielded the exact same findings as the canine study above.

But fear not – I'm not going to suggest that you only fill your iPod with a bunch of baroque (unless, of course, you are currently freaking out from too much stress). However, it does look like music is a great way to get into the mood of your Work in Progress.
If your main character is a teen full of hostility, tension, and sadness – go for the Nirvana for goodness sake.

Writing about a flawed individual with avoidance issues? One word – Hendrix.

Need some nervous energy for a particular piece of art? Crank up the Iron Maiden.

And, of course, Beethoven’s your man –

if you’re prepping to pump out a pint of milk.

PROMPT: Writer Amy Tan (of The Joy Luck Club fame) wrote of her use of music in The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings. Apparently, she chooses a particular album for each book, then writes only to that music. Amy notes that it helps her get into the writing zone right away. It’s certainly worth a try, so set your mood with music before your write today – then rock and write on!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Get Ready…

November is only two weeks away, and you know what that means…

A month of outright madness.

No, I am not talking about the witlessness brought on by the presidential election, or the debilitating jetlag caused by the end of Daylight Savings Time.

I’m talking NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month.

For those of you who don’t know about this crazy creative caper, here’s a little background –

Back in 1999, Chris Baty, an out-of-work anthropologist came up with the idea to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. And while we can certainly wonder why this guy was unemployed when every company in the world has at least 27 positions specifically designed for anthropologists, we cannot question his NaNoWriMo creative brilliance. Heck, it is even fun to say.

Anyway, an idea that began with a group of 21 friends from the San Francisco Bay area (drinking enough coffee in one month to kill an elephant) has evolved into a force of over 200,000 participants worldwide.

Elephants beware.

And while I‘ve never actually completed an entire novel in a month, each year I’ve used the 30 days of November to make a HUGE dent in my WIP (Work in Progress).


Because misery LOVES miserable company, that’s why.

Actually, I’ve done it because I find it much easier to edit words on a page than those floating around in my head on the slow boat to nowhere.

I’m encouraging you to try it for yourself.

You have two weeks to think about it –

And trust me, your November novel is A LOT more fun to think about than candidates, bad debates, battle state polls, second term goals, fact checking, and what-the-hecking…

Vote NaNoWriMo!

PROMPT: Are you planning to have a NaNoWriMo in November? For more information, you can check out Mr. Baty’s official website here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Who’s the Boss?

Hip Hip Hooray, it’s National Boss’s Day!

So if you’ve got a boss, it’s a great day to find some great ways to show a little love.

I’ve held numerous jobs over the many years I’ve circled the sun – burger flipper, hotel maid, waitress, psychometrist, counselor… I’ve even done time working in a jail (Please note that this is a little different from actually doing time in jail).

As a result of my varied employment history, I’ve experienced quite an assortment of bosses – from kind to, well, kind of creepy. But none of them can hold a candle to the boss I have today.

Sure, most days I have to start work at 6:00AM, and sometimes I don’t clock out until after midnight. But hey, she lets me work in my pj’s AND eat as much chocolate as I have a hankering for.

Yep –

as a freelancer, I work for myself.

And guess what –

My boss is so awesome, she’s giving me this special day off!

So, I’m outta here.

Hmmmm… maybe I should buy her some chocolate.

PROMPT: If you’ve ever had a boss, I know you’ve got stories. And when it comes to stories, bad bosses are the best! Take it from Dilbert’s creator, Scott Adams, who has made an entire career out of one boss fresh from The Hot Place.

Oh yeah – while you’re creating today, don’t forget to listen to some Springsteen… ‘cause Baby you were Born to Write!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Be Prepared

Always, always, ALWAYS carry a pad of paper and a writing implement with you…

Yes, I mean at ALL times.

I’m not sure if I’m being clear enough here – but really, you should have paper and pen pasted to your person perpetually.


Because you just never know when that flash of inspiration, that GREAT IDEA, is going to come flying into your head.  And when it does, you must be ready for it.

How many times have you been out and about, minding your own business, when that perfect poem, fabulous character dialogue, or kick-butt story ending comes to you out of the blue?

Well, if you’re unprepared, the next thing you know you’re scrawling across perfectly good checks, your forearm, or your son’s stellar report card.

I am speaking from experience here.

And you can never really count on electronic devices to serve as your GREAT IDEA catchers. They’re too easily affected by dead batteries, sunspots, magnetic pole shifts, and dog spit.

Anyway, I was glad I had my trusty pad and pencil on Friday when a new GREAT IDEA came through as I was driving. Disclaimer: DO NOT draft and drive.

I was pretty pumped because the particular Muse that tends to appear only while I’m driving always produces favorable results –

And while all five of the poems she has offered in the past have been pretty religious in nature (yeah, I’m aware that that says something about my driving), every one of them has gone on to be published. Sweet fancy Moses!

Well, imagine my surprise on Friday when I learned that I’d actually been fired by that particular Muse.

I mean, that’s the only explanation that I can come up with.

Because this pressing piece of poetry, this thing that simply HAD TO BE WRITTEN (in a supermarket parking lot, at stoplights, and at speeds of 50MPH –See Disclaimer above) had NOTHING whatsoever to do with Jesus or Buddha or Krishna or some Great Big God...

and EVERYTHING to do with, well –
Banana slugs.

PROMPT: Have you ever experienced that pressing idea that simply HAD TO BE WRITTEN? Challenge yourself to carry a pad and pen all week to catch those GREAT IDEAS as they occur. Who knows, you may be lucky enough to find yourself trailed by a mollusk Muse, too!