Saturday, November 24, 2007

I read a review of "Enchanted," the new Disney movie that opened over the weekend, that said it was "one of those rare 'all-ages entertainment' that really does appeal to all ages," and I just have to add: well, maybe, but it definitely will not appeal to all genders. My ten-year-old son, who was willing to go based on a couple of funny scenes in the trailers he's been seeing ad nauseum for the past several weeks, was completely disgusted. He had been sitting down in front with one of his buddies and the look of utter disdain on his face when he turned around to find me after the lights came up was priceless. I told him, "It's your first chick flick, dear. Get used to it." It is so cute it falls all over itself being cute. Get your girlfriends, a big bucket of popcorn, some chocolate, and prepare to be cuted to death.

I'm at just under 25,000 words with a week to go. I go back and forth between cheering myself on, "I can still do this! I can! I can!!" to thinking, well, I'll definitely make it further than I did last year (which was 30,038 words), and wanting to just stop. I have the world's stupidest plot this year, so it's hard to make myself keep going sometimes. But I'm trying to look at it as practice, just plain old practice, at stringing 50,000 words together. I've never done it before. If I just keep going, it will give me an idea of what it takes to do that many words.

I've always been the type that needed a deadline to really get serious about something, so we'll see how this goes. If I didn't have anything else to do this week, it wouldn't be a problem but, well, it's shaping up to be a pretty normal week which means I have plenty of other things I have to do.

Hope everybody had a great Turkey Day.
Aunt BeaN

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This is the only thing I wrote while On Hiatus that seems worth posting, written on a day when I was feeling pretty low.

I have nowhere to stand. The ground has disappeared underneath me. If I fall, where will I land? is there anywhere to land? this is exactly where Buddhism and Christianity diverge. Christianity says God has the hairs on your head numbered, he knows when the sparrow falls. If you jump, He will catch you, you will fall into His arms of love. Buddhism says, there is nowhere to stand. If you jump, you will fall into nothing. But you will be better off because you're not standing on false ground anymore. There is only groundlessness. Which is true? Does it matter? Both are human ways of thinking about something that is not within the realm of human comprehension. ...

and so on for a couple more paragraphs. Boring paragraphs. BUt I wanted to post that, because it will be relevant to some other things I want to say later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

As I've said before, I'm not a very outgoing person. So it was with a great deal of courage that I packed up my laptop and headed to Borders tonight to meet up with a half dozen other local writers who are participating in NaNoWriMo. Fortunately everyone was very friendly and it was a lot of fun. After an hour or so of talking with the others, I can tell you this: I need to get out more. My life has become so boring. It was very stimulating to hear what others are doing. We have one fantasy writer, one history buff, one writing a near-future suspense novel with worldwide catastrophes, one with the most amazing cast of characters I've ever heard, and me, with my 10,000 words and NO IDEAS. Well, I think I might actually be coming up with some ideas now that I can riff off what other people are doing. It was fun. I hope we do it again. And just think, only another FORTY THOUSAND words to go in a mere 17 days. Ah, I love Nano.

Aunt BeaN

Thursday, November 08, 2007

While I was On Hiatus, I read Great Expectations. You know, the one we all had to read in junior high-- Pip, Estella, Miss Havisham, the wedding cake covered with spiderwebs. I remembered the basics (I thought), and I remembered that I often didn't understand what I was reading. I was probably 13 at the time, and had no patience for Victorian English. And Miss Kimbrough, my 9th grade english teacher, the one who wore two different shoes for most of the day without even realizing it until one of her students pointed it out to her during 4th period, wasn't exactly a genius at explicating it for witless adolescents.

But what I discovered upon re-reading it surprised me. First of all, either I bagged on the novel halfway through, or we were only required to read half of it. I had no memory whatsoever of anything that happened after Pip discovered that Miss Havisham was not his benefactor. In fact, in my memory, that was where the novel ended. I was also surprised by how funny it is. Not in a Jim Carrey kind of way, of course, but in a subtler way. And further, I found myself truly moved by Pip. He undergoes a transformation from an arrogant young man to a humble, contented adult that is quite profound-- but also quite clearly planned by Dickens. There's no missing the moral to the story, although it's proof of Dickens genius that the lesson doesn't overpower the story. It's not a quick read, or at least not for me: Victorian english is slow going. I spread it out over the entire seven weeks. But highly recommended.

But BEST OF ALL: early on in the book, Dickens ends a sentence with a dangling preposition. And that settles it. If no less a writer than Charles Dickens can publish a book with a dangling preposition in it, who am I to worry? No more apologies for bad grammar. Or at least, not as many.

I'm trying to think of a witty way to end this post with a dangling preposition but of course not a single thing is coming to mind.

The death knell of sanity for someone who writes is becoming utterly convinced that one has nothing to say. It is easy to fall into, because what can one say that is anything more than a pebble tossed into the sea? Even great writers, real writers, writers with true works of art (or alternatively, bestsellers) to their credit can't claim to have changed the world. Remember awhile back when I said I had become more cynical in some ways and less cynical in others? That is where I am more cynical: I no longer believe it is possible to change the world.

But here is the way in which I have become less cynical: it doesn't matter. Or, rather: changing the world isn't what matters. And I'm still figuring out the implications of this. It is, on the one hand, an enormous relief. To not be responsible for changing the world, I mean. But on the other hand, the things that remain to be done become both less huge and more important. Faugh. words are failing me again.

to participate in nanowrimo is to come up with intricate, philosophical, bizarre, and hilarious excuses not to write.

epononymously yours,
Aunt BeaN

Friday, November 02, 2007

Oh, that just sounded so confident yesterday, about how I wouldn't be able to post much this month because I would be writing my novel. Oh, such delusions. I finally made myself sit down and start typing this morning, after avoiding it all day yesterday because I was afraid nothing would happen. And it was predictably awful. Triggering all sorts of dire thoughts about what an awful writer I am, how insane it was to think I would be able to do this again, etc etc etc. I could bore you to tears with this stuff, trust me. But at least I got 595 words done, so on day two, I only have 49,405 words left to go................ what the hell was I thinking???

The topic I left unaddressed yesterday was the whole realm of coffee substitutes. Coffee substitutes are in and of themselves a sufficient reason to stay addicted to coffee for the rest of your life. I'm trying to be caffeine-free, not just decaffeinated, which limits my options severely. But I still want something hot and somewhat coffee-like in the morning. So far I've tried Pero, Teeccino, Postum, and malted milk. They must definitely be an acquired taste, and I have not acquired it yet. But I'm trying. Teeccino is the best so far. Herbal teas are OK for the afternoon, but in the morning, they are too feeble. wimpy. anemic. whatever.

and that's it for today.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Well, I'm back. But since it is NOVEMBER and November is National Novel Writing Month ( I don't know how much I'll be posting. I'm trying something very different this year and it may make me crazy. I was going to start first thing this morning, but since I was on a plane yesterday, and since being on a plane requires motion sickness meds, I am like a zombie this morning-- still, at 11:20 a.m.

I will tell you about one adventure I had in the past seven weeks, though. I think I am coherent enough for that. Starting almost immediately after I went on hiatus, I decided that I would wean myself off caffeine. (I thought using the word "hiatus" would make it sound glamorous, like a TV show that had left you with a season-ending cliffhanger or something.) I am a caffeine addict, there is no denying it. Any form-- chocolate, coffee, tea, Diet Dr. Pepper, chocolate, and... well, chocolate. I've had caffeine every single day for at least the last ten years. I know that because if I didn't, I'd get a migraine. The leaning-over-the-toilet throwing-up-your-toes kind of migraine, which I hate. I even bought caffeine in pill form (yes, they still sell NoDoz) so if we were camping or travelling, I wouldn't have to worry about finding coffee.

But for some reason I decided it was a good idea to do this insane thing, so I plunged in. The first week, I just pushed back the first caffeine of the day -- so instead of having it first thing in the morning, I would wait until 11:00 a.m., and then 1 p.m., and then 4:00 p.m. That went OK. Then the next week I cut back to decaf (which still has a little caffeine, you know). That was pretty dang miserable. I'm prone to migraines anyway, and I had a mild migraine every day. "Mild migraine" may sound like an oxymoron, but if you have them often as I do, there is definitely such a thing. I classify a headache as a migraine if no over-the-counter meds will touch it (advil, tylenol, aspirin, excedrin-- though of course excedrin has caffeine in it, so it was no good for this purpose). A "mild" migraine would be one that makes you grumpy as hell, but you can still be up and about and haven't needed to take anything stronger. (You can imagine how much my family enjoyed this, by the way. It has already entered the status of legend when my kids talk about it: Remember When Mom Went Off Caffeine? and how horrible it was?)

But then the next week I cut out caffeine entirely and it was MISERABLE. I had a "real" migraine practically every day for the next ten days. Meaning, imitrex/zomig/maxalt (pick one of those three) and/or percocet. But then finally, a month after starting, it got better. And now I think I am truly off, although I am still adjusting behaviorally (I swear it was like getting off something much worse). I still want that damn cup of coffee in the morning, and I want it bad. And I miss the Diet Dr. Pepper caffeine boost in the afternoon. Oddly, I haven't missed chocolate as much as I miss the coffee. I walk down the coffee aisle at the grocery store and I find myself stopped in the middle of the aisle, just inhaling the smell of coffee.

Was it worth it? I honestly don't know yet. Preliminary results are inconculsive. I think I have to stick with it for awhile to see if it makes a difference.

This is somewhat crazy. I admit it. Hey, I wonder if I could use this in my noveL???

Aunt BeaN