When the Muse Calls…

So much for all of that bravado about how music always trumps writing fiction. Ha!

Here’s what happened… I had an amazing songwriting day yesterday. I couldn’t wait to hit the studio this morning and start banging out more songs. I did a little keyboard practice. I did some vocal warmup. And then I listened to yesterday’s song. It sucked! I got scared. I felt so intimidated. The imposter syndrome struck. So what’s a girl to do?

Pull out my favorite manuscript in progress and start writing? That’s what stopped me the day before, when I decided I should focus on music – not writing. So I pulled up a different manuscript. Perhaps the muse wants me to work on that one today.

Okay, so maybe I won’t really know who wins until I’ve done enough work that something crosses the finish line. Maybe that’s how the muse works and I should just obey the muse when it strikes.

How about you?

Save the Cat for Novelists

Kicking my writing intentions into high gear for 2019, I dug out my Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. And what I realized is that I’m living the “Save the Cat” life. Art imitating life or life imitating art? There are two thoughts on that one.

Case in point: If you look closely at the “Save the Cat” beat structure, you would see that this time last year I was living my normal life, the status quo, the Setup. We’d just moved into a brand new Florida beach house, a new kitty had joined our little family, we’d had to trade in our Jeep that kept stalling at inconvenient times for a brand new Dodge Challenger (which I love, btw), new furniture to decorate our new house (especially when the electric recliner couch got permanently stuck in the open position), and life was looking pretty darn good. We were set up to live in our forever home, right?

Then, last summer, out of nowhere, we were blindsided. We didn’t see it coming. First, our beloved 18-year-old cat Skipper died and this may sound minimal to non pet lovers, but this was a huge loss that I’m still suffering through (okay, he was old and we knew he couldn’t live forever, but he’d been doing so well). Then, two weeks later my father died. The next month, hubby was summoned back to headquarters in Las Vegas, where we’d just moved from the year before. We thought we’d left Vegas behind. Ah, yes, we were faced with a Catalyst.

So after returning to Florida, the Debate begins. Should we leave Florida, move back to Vegas? The job situation really looked like it. Personally, it seemed like it, too. I was missing my home back west, and the losses were too much for me being so far from home. But we had a brand new house. The cross-country moving expenses are huge. Was it worth it? Where would we live now that we no longer had our Vegas house? Could we recover?

Then we break into Act 2. As Save the Cat says:

The game is afoot! The challenge is accepted! The adventure is upon us! The new way of life has begun! The Debate is over, our hero knows what they have to do, and now it’s time to do it.

This is where we are now. Unexpected challenges occur, resistance is futile, it’s time to take action and move forward into my pursuit of what I really want, and, hopefully, find what it is I really need.

And now, my friends, it’s time to get to work and structure my wip, “save the cat” style.

Ode to Cecilia (#poem)

Stories of California Missions and Father Junipero Serra
Disneyland fireworks from our childhood era
Beach Boys and Beatles and Screamie Birds groupies
Cecilia and I sang “Hang on Sloopy”

From “sexy scientist” to Las Vegas beautician
She called herself “CeeCee” following her ambition
Sitting next to Alan at the sixth grade spelling bee
On stage I saw green but he was mine, she reassured me

“Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart”
Paul Simon sang years later and many miles apart
About a Patroness for poets, novelists, and musicians
Discovering decades later, it was a year after my audition

Hiding in plain sight God touched my soul
He sent priests and musicians and witnesses and moles
Pursuing me relentlessly for as long as it took
Saint Cecilia leading me to sing and write the book

#Blogtoberfest Day 30: On the Brink of Everything

On the Brink of Everything by Parker J. Palmer caught my attention on my recent visit to Barnes & Noble. He may be on the brink of turning 80, but while I don’t agree with some of his thinking, he does share the things that are true for him about growing older, being mentored when he was younger, and becoming a mentor to younger people now. The point is that people of all ages have something to learn from or share with others.

I totally agree. When I was in my 20s through 40s, I often gravitated toward older women who taught me so much. I even wrote a song called “Wise Woman” about my friend from Montreal who I met in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Then somewhere along the way, I noticed younger women were gravitating toward me, looking at me as a mentor and I love fulfilling that role. Sometimes it’s people I’ve met online or at church or wherever. Sometimes it’s my readers.

They say that when you want to learn something new, you have to be willing to be a beginner. And that’s me with music. I have to be a beginner. And so I’ve met such interesting young people as we travel this road together, whether music or poetry.

November is just a couple of days away and I really do feel like I’m on the brink of everything, experimenting with a bit of unplugging and planning another cross country move. I invite you all to travel that road with me. And while I hope to take a blog hiatus during November, I’ll be back to share any experiences/insights worth sharing and I invite you to do the same.

No matter how young or old we are, we’re all on the brink of everything that’s going to come next.

#Blogtoberfest Day 26: Unplugging in November

Instead of doing #NaNoWriMo in November, I’m going to unplug – at least somewhat. What I will not be doing (or trying not to):

  • Blogging
  • Reading on Kindle
  • Watching travel videos on Youtube (okay, maybe once a week)
  • Sleeping with my iPhone
  • Playing gin rummy on my iPad

What I hope I will be doing:

  • Practicing the keys
  • Writing songs and/or fiction
  • Reading paperbacks and/or hard cover books
  • Going to Barnes & Noble
  • Visiting the Guitar Center

I also plan to delete my LinkedIn account. I only returned because the old Lynda.com was now part of LinkedIn and they forced me to rejoin LinkedIn to access it. Each time I renew for another month, they change how they work. Now you have to use iTunes to manage your payments, which I try to avoid as often as possible. iTunes – ugh! I”d like to delete LinkedIn immediately, but I still have access to classes for most of November.

Except for Twitter, I’ve deleted my other social media accounts. Even the word “social media” creeps me out – lol!

Ah, but then there’s YouTube. I subscribe to several travel Vloggers, but I’ve noticed that by watching their travel experiences, my travel experience is diminished. It’s helpful to read about places you might visit, but YouTube vlogs kinda take away the surprise, those things you stumble upon which make your experience so much richer.

And I really dislike all the begging to subscribe and share and donate money. I definitely think I need to avoid travel vloggers. At first I thought that might be the hardest thing for me to give up, but it’s getting old and I’m not enjoying the videos as much.

I have no idea how November might change me, but I hope to update you all in December.

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 25: How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career (and your Brain)

Unplugging – it sounds so sexy to me – lol! I’ve been drawn to unplugging for some time because, like most people today, I’ve been noticing the downside of too much information, over stimulation, social media, etc., etc. And not just as a writer, but as a musician and as a person.

Working in the San Francisco Bay Area with a career in electronic publishing since the late 1970s, I was one of the first to hop aboard all things electronic, imagining something like the internet and hollering with glee when it became accessible to all. But things don’t stay as they were. Instead of being helpful, the internet has deteriorated in so many ways and don’t get me started on social media.

Anyway, it’s interesting that many people are realizing this now – people are getting off social media, studies have been studied, books have been written, and people are speaking out about the harm of it all.

What I’m leading up to is I found this post in my email yesterday – “How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career” from Productive Writers. He quotes a book called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I downloaded a sample to my reader and can’t wait to get into it today.

I’m wondering if maybe this is why I’ve lost interest in writing. Is it because I can’t focus for that long these days? Have I said everything I have to say? Or did I lose interest as my readers lost interest? Once the algorithms changed from people finding me via search engines to a weighted discovery of numbers – sites and books with the most sales are shown to people’s eyeballs. So if your numbers aren’t huge, you get practically zero visibility. The more you sell, the more you will sell. The less you sell, the less people will even know about you until finally your sales stop completely. Another way the internet is all screwed up.

We’re being told what we see – it’s no longer the free space where all are equal – that’s the problem with social media – it’s controlling “information” and we see different things, dictated by advertisers and algorithms. We’re being controlled like puppets. But the scariest thing of all is how our brains are actually being changed from it.

It’s definitely time to unplug – at least somewhat. It won’t be easy because we’ve been trained to reach for our smart phone every time we get that twitch, which is practically nonstop. I’ve noticed that if I turn my phone off or leave it in another room, I sleep much better. No middle-of-the-night poetry, but I’ll just have to write it at the computer during the day. Who knows what I may actually accomplish?

#Blogtoberfest Day 19: Things I Will Miss

I will miss the morning sunlight peeking through the trees,
soaring birds chirping their morning wakefulness,
squawking gulls flapping their wings,
treading shore birds scanning the pond for breakfast.

I will miss sipping my coffee on the lanai greeting the dawn with prayer,
scribbling my early thoughts,
clearing my mind of nighttime fears,
making room for gratitude and thankfulness.

I will miss cocktails and apps overlooking the springs at the BoatHouse,
strolling World Showcase,
martinis in the Wilderness,
dipping my toes in the ocean.

I will miss our dream kitchen,
white cabinets and quartz countertops,
undermount lights with a view
of morning walkers and evening golf carts.

But most of all I will miss
the last house where Skipper lived.

 

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 17: Living in the Moment (#poem)

When I was a child, I knew how to live in the moment
No bills to pay, no past to replay
Anticipating the next adventure
Beach, park, or reading all day
Alone or joint venture

When I was a child, I had no worries to bother with
Maybe a few, such as dishes or dusting to do
Begging them off while watching Disneyland fireworks go off
Dreaming of becoming ‘big, rich and famous,” didn’t you, too?
Confiding in that one friend who wouldn’t scoff

When I was a child, I dreamed of the future
A wife, a mother, even a movie star
Ironing and watching Password or the Fugitive like mother
And don’t forget “My Mother the Car”
After playing outside with my friends or my brother

Today I vow to live in the moment
No worries, no past, just the next step on the way
Anticipating the moment’s adventure
Beach, park, or reading all day
Writing without censure

#Blogtoberfest Day 16: #NaNoWriMo Prep

Ever since my first NaNoWriMo about 2004, I’ve run fast from any mention of “NaNo.” What a big mess of a manuscript I wrote – something I could never edit into coherence.

The writer of this post thinks people should stop writing and start reading – that writers get way too much attention at book stores. I agree, that it isn’t for everybody and there are reasons to do it or not to do it – only you can make that decision. But here’s why I’m going to commit to doing it this year:

I’m reading the revised edition of “No Plot, No Problem” and the author made this statement:

“The year was 1999, and I was working as a writer in the San Francisco Bay Area, drinking way too much coffee and watching the dot-com boom rewrite the rules of life around me”

That was me, too!  After moving around quite a bit since then, I love the idea of reconnecting with Bay Area people who were there back then and maybe still there. But NaNoWriMo also connects me to a writing community and after writing in isolation for too many years from moving around a lot, stumbling around in the songwriting community, which is nothing like a writing community, I’m eager to reconnect with a writing community again.

So, yeah,  committing to #Blogtoberfest is the warm-up to writing every day and so I’m preparing to writing a novel during November, no matter how short or long, as long as there is a beginning, an ending, and a middle.