My computer tower is on my desk instead of the floor, thanks to toddlers, dogs, and my slackitude when it comes to vacuuming under my desk. This gives me a smooth clean surface perfect for post it notes. There are eight on it right now. Character names and thumbnail descriptions, questions for my friend in the army (color background for a story), list of blogs that I’d like to have review my book, books I want to read, that kind of stuff. The kinds of details I’d remember if I didn’t have a small child who does not sleep, and for the love of kumquats, the next person who suggests sleep training DIES, okay, because seriously, do people really think I’d have NOT CONSIDERED THAT after two years of not sleeping? If it worked on my particular kid, wouldn’t I be sleeping more? Anyway.
So I swapped pictures of this computer, bristling with post it notes, with a friend on Facebook who claimed to have the a better collection of notes than I did.
He did. Kind of. Two of his notes were attached to the computer case with magnets.
Y’all… don’t do that. Yes, it’s probably safe. The type of magnet that erases hard drives is much stronger than the “refrigerator” kind of magnet. But you can still do damage to other components. And if you’re a dork like I am, owning a rare earth magnet or two is not unthinkable. If you’re in the habit of sticking stuff to your computer, and you use that magnet because you’re muddy brained from not sleeping or whatever, you could really ruin your day.
It hasn’t happened to me, because sometimes, I can see the trap before I step in it.
I swear that writing is like a crossword puzzle. You want to use the perfect word, the exact word that will fit. The perfect word will enhance the story with nuance and flavor and subtext. But the search for the perfect word can bring your writing flow to a halt while you fart around trying to remember the word that is sort of like “strive.”
Strive, but kind of sounds like astride because it has an “a” and an “i” in there and anyway, it’s an active word that suggests hard work and not just daydreams. Hrm, maybe I should change that book he’s reading to one about patent law to foreshadow the ending. Did they have books about patent law then? Maybe I should Google that… NO INTERNET DURING WRITING TIME. Focus on the word, striving, reaching, climbing, do I have a thesaurus? Where’s my thesaurus? I could just use the online one… NO INTERNET DURING WRITING TIME. Where is my stupid thesaurus? Oh, hell with it. Next paragraph. She was attired in brown velvet, trimmed in… no, I can’t say attire, too close to the last sentence where I said aspire.
Aspire! I meant to say aspire!
See how much faster that would have gone if I’d just written “strive XXX find synonym” and moved on? (The XXX tag doesn’t mean hardcore porn in this sense – it gives me something to search for later on in order to find all my notes. I find the margin note feature less than helpful with first drafts.) I’d have thought of the right word within seconds.
Honestly, the hardest part about writing is learning to get out of your own way.
Some days, I want to be a Writer. By that, I mean “one who has written, and is now collecting royalty checks.” The whole “Writer” thing involves fuzzy daydreams and interviews with magazines and has nothing to do with reality. I know in reality, we’re writers with a lower case W, and that means we have to write. It’s a slog, sometimes. It’s not hard work in the sense that digging ditches is hard, but it’s still work. This morning I don’t feel like working. But if writing were my paying job, I would have to do it whether I felt like it or not. And I want it to be my paying job. It could be, if I put in the time and stop getting wrapped up in daydreams involving elegant hats.
But this morning I’d much rather be a Writer than write.
When I wrote the tagline on this blog, it was really just a placeholder. Most author sites have something terribly clever as a tagline, and I was sure something brilliant would come to me.
Well, I’m still waiting.
There is a famous author, whose name escapes me, who advises new writers to never associate a bad habit with writing, or you won’t be able to write without your habit. I quit smoking years ago, and I don’t drink other than the occasional frozen slushie thing with an umbrella. I figured I was clear.
That was five pounds ago.
I’m trying to break the habit of eating at the computer, in baby steps. I have stopped purchasing goldfish crackers, because even my toddler was giving me a skeptical look when I put them in the cart “for him.” Ditto Veggie Booty. Ditto cheese sticks. Delicious, tasty cheese sticks. /sigh
Storebought hummus became the substitute, until I realized how much money I was dumping down the drain. Holy guacamole (another thing I’ve stopped eating). Fortunately, I found a recipe a few months ago. After some experimentation, I figured out how to make it exactly the way I like it. I make a double batch, which happens to fit perfectly into one of those disposable storage tubs that sandwich meat comes packed in these days.
Hummus, Kathleen Style
1 can chickpeas
3 TBS olive oil
2 TBS tahini paste (look for the real thing that doesn’t have extra ingredients like garlic)
2 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS water
1 large clove fresh garlic, pressed
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Rinse the chickpeas to get the gooey stuff they’re packed in completely off. Dump them into the blender. Add everything else. Turn blender onto “puree” with the lid closed. No, for real, I’m still finding bits of hummus in weird places. Once it’s partially pureed, you can take the lid off. While it’s still going, use a spatula to scrape down the sides and encourage un-smashed chickpeas to go to their deaths. Once you’ve got it to the consistency that you like, stop the blender. Pack into a storage dish.
Do not eat straight from storage container with chunks of pita you rip off in hunks like a wildebeest dining on the savannah. Go to the trouble of cutting up some pita, spooning out the hummus, and garnishing with paprika. Otherwise you might finish a new chapter and an entire tub of hummus in one sitting. Trust me on that.