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Rain, Rain, Come and Stay

Sep. 13th, 2009 | 10:43 pm

That's been my refrain for the last two days. It's been a peaceful, comforting feeling to be trapped inside by the rain that's parked itself over DFW area. If it went on for a week, maybe I'd complain, but not about two days after weeks and weeks of blistering heat and sun. Besides, being trapped inside means significant progress on my book, quilt, living room painting, and I watched a movie with my son! Must have something to do with being from the North. My daughter said she'd been having memory flashbacks about PA all day.

"Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain, telling me it's time to go home." Home is a state of mind, though.

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Aug. 19th, 2009 | 03:31 pm

So, what is that I'm feeling about the latest revision and life? Apathetic. Here's Merriam-Webster's definition of my current mood.

* adjective
* Date: 1744

1 : having or showing little or no feeling or emotion : spiritless
2 : having little or no interest or concern : indifferent
synonyms see impassive

— ap·a·thet·i·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Couldn't get much more to the point. Not that I'm not working, says the woman typing on LJ instead of her ms. It's just that I'm not too excited to do it. Maybe if I paint the living room first, I'll feel more like writing. Or not. Okay. I'll get to it, otherwise, it will never get done. Ugh.

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Silly commas and daft quotation marks

Aug. 16th, 2009 | 04:03 pm

I spent two hours crafting two articles for an online group that claims to pay for your expertise. Since fiction isn't exactly breaking my bank, I'm looking for other outlets to write for. I started with punctuation and attribution in dialogue because they were bite size chunks and these articles are 600 words max. Their counter also works differently than my word counter. Go figure that one out! Do they count contractions as two words? I'm not sure if it's worth it, but I'm trying to make an attempt to branch out from fiction to a steadier source of writer funds, and hopefully freelance nonfiction will help.

How many days left until school and long, quiet, uninterrupted days? Seven. Will I look back on this time wishing I hadn't wished it away? Nope. It's okay to look forward to something good, especially one that will remove an argumentative, grumpy teenager from my presence for nine hours a day. I can hear the stress ebbing away.

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Bleak House

Aug. 7th, 2009 | 11:26 pm

I've been listening to Dickens' Bleak House while I do yard work and clean. I, of course, chose the unabridged version, which is 39 hours 16 minutes. (I do a lot of yard work between vegie and flower gardens and the horses.) Then yesterday I stumbled across an abridged version that was only 3.5 hours! My first thought was how had they shrunk this complicated book down to only that little time? Or was the reader like one of those disclaimer people at the end of the ads? Barreling through text at a rate only the Chipmunks could understand? I dismissed the abridged version as likely better than Cliff Notes, but not by much.

Then today, while weeding, I turned Bleak House on and came ear-to-head with the contrast between today's truncated writing and the massive tome that Dickens wrote. Sure, one could cut that passage about the cart struggling up the hill, and all the subsequent references to said cart. But would Joe's death hold the pain and poignancy if one did? I don't think so. There's magic in the grand word pictures Dickens indulged in rendering. There's mood and motive and humor. There's character. I still smile thinking of how the dance master's father's eyes crease when he sits because he's so tightly bound by all the items that go into making him The Master of Deportment.

Does this mean that I find Hemingway's style terse and unrevealing? Not at all. I just wish that somewhere in this mad world where people give a quarter of their brains to each of four tasks that there were still readers that would enjoy the leisure and delight of Dickens' style in a modern form.

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Mud and Pie

Apr. 27th, 2009 | 12:18 pm

I'm back at my desk after more than a week away, but I'm also coated in mud. Nine horses, dripping wet, needed trims this morning. The farrier arrived promptly at eight and I had a few in, but was still catching my two boarders. Neither of which likes to be caught, but they're both learning I don't give up. Even ankle deep in mud, I keep coming.

It's strange, but that's as deep as the mud goes here. Below that is clay. You can step into the mud and skid sideways, but you can't sink. Below the level of fairly good soil peeks the yellow–orange clay, and it's as slick as you'd guess. Fortunately, horses slop around and nearly fall as much as humans, so they don't run as much to stay away.

In a weird way, that's how the truth of my latest WIP feels. I've had a good coating of material on the story for a while now, but I haven't been able to identify what that bright sick yellow slick stuff is below it. I know what it is now. It's anger.

So what about the pie? Nothing much other than my horse, Sweetie Pie, is getting bigger by the day and I can't wait for her foal to be born!

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Be Kind to Yourself

Apr. 17th, 2009 | 01:09 am
mood: exhaustedexhausted

I've been on a work-binge. Unfortunately, it wasn't a writing binge. I've finished a massive arbor (still need to buy some plants for it, although I'm waiting for some seeds I planted to show). I've bought, literally, a house full of furniture, rented a U-Haul truck for Saturday, and will drive it, without company, to PA. Then I get the joy of rounding up my old friends and their able-bodied sons and daughters to help unload it. On top of that, my kids decided today that Dad was wrong, and we needed to keep the new living room set and send the old one to PA. So we hauled in the new furniture and dragged out the old (I cleaned it first, which killed my steam cleaner).

In all my mad rushing around, I've had very little time to think, let alone do what I want. So next week I plan on having some fun with my friends in addition to cleaning and putting the house together, and tomorrow I'm going on a Quilt Shop Hop with a friend here in Texas. I should stay home and get ready so I can leave sooner, but I'm not. I'm going to be kind to myself and take a break from all this work, so I can refuel my well, which is almost bone dry.

Not to worry, my almost-dry well, it's supposed to rain practically the whole week I'll be in PA. Figures!

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Early morning, late ms

Apr. 7th, 2009 | 10:08 am

As I was driving home from dropping off my son, I was mulling over a problem in my latest wip. It's a static scene that takes place in a car, and I wanted more physical tension. Apparently driving and thinking at the same time triggered a good response, because I've been playing with a solution ever since. Nope. Not telling. You'll have to wait for the book.

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Long time, no journal!

Apr. 5th, 2009 | 10:51 pm

I know, I know, I've been away about a year. But I'm going to try to be better at this journaling. Really. I am.

For instance, today I mastered the blind hem stitch on my sewing machine so I can "professionally" attach the bindings, and I figured out, with the help from YouTube, how to hide the final seam on a binding. I need to watch someone do stuff like that, so I googled what I wanted to do, and voila! There were multiple choices.

I also picked up Zulu, our latest goat from Persimmon Grove Clark Farm. She's a cutie! Black and white and feisty. She'll be joined by Leif the Lucky and Onyx in about a month, also from PCGF. I wanted to add some black to our herd, and when I saw Leif, I fell in love. He has a black eye patch, just like the buck we lost last year. Onyx is black in front and white in back, with some mixed up spots between.

As for writing: I'm less than forty pages from the end of my revision and should finish it this week. Yay!

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Quotable quotes

Jun. 14th, 2008 | 10:41 am
mood: pensivepensive

I've loved quotes forever. I used to copy my favorites from Reader's Digest into notebooks. Not that I ever did anything with them. I'm not sure I even reread them. But they frequently inspired me in weird ways. A good quote still will. It's almost like I capture a theme for a story from a group of well-chosen words. Funny how the mind works! Now I use them as story starters.

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100 bales of hay later

Jun. 13th, 2008 | 12:06 am
mood: pleasedpleased

Kids can be amazing workers given the right circumstances and motivation. Mine moved 100 forty to fifty pound bales of hay from a field two miles away to our barn in a little over an hour. They threw them onto a rented trailer, stacked them so they wouldn't spill on the ride home, then unloaded them and restacked them at our barn. We did two loads. My daughter spent some of the time fighting off the curious and greedy horses, which her older brothers didn't want to do, and I excused my youngest son when he couldn't lift anymore bales, but at the field they were awesome. I kept thinking of spiders or maybe swarms as they rushed at the piles of bales and tried to load them as fast as they could. They were on a mission! Did I mention it was 95 degrees? They're great.

This might seem totally off my usual writing topics, but I can connect this to writing. How often have you heard something like, "Kids don't do things like haying or a multitude of other old-fashioned things anymore?" from some well meaning critic. I didn't pay my kids. I did say we had to do it, and we'll do it again later this summer. The kids, however, did the work with only one minor fight before we began. Could I make an editor believe they worked so happily, though? Hmmmmm. Probably not a majority of NYC editors. I've been told, "Most kids don't know what a barn smells like," or "Homecoming isn't a big thing anymore." I want to say, "Come visit the rest of the country. Please." Because a lot of our readers live in the vast space between our coasts, and a lot of them do know what barns smell like. Sure, maybe only a few know it's better to be sweating in long sleeves when stacking hay bales than have your arms riddled with scratches from needle sharp hay, but some do. As for the rest? They might like to learn about it, given the right story.

As for our horses? They gobbled the loose hay until we arrived with the second load and I released the herd's lead mare. She didn't want to stand in the sun chewing drying grass. She wanted the fresh grass under the trees in the pasture. She led, the rest followed. The grass is always greener . . .

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