Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Shoe Commercials Are Sometimes Right

Just do it.

Excuses really are boring.

Put your head down and try to get it done and see what happens.

5 Things

Monday 8/25/14: What Am I Doing?

mondaydoing08252014Watching: The Leftovers – So far, I’ve only watched the pilot, and I’m at least intrigued enough to keep going some more. Although this cult has been dubbed The Most Boring Cult in the World. And they follow around Some of the Most Boring People in the World. But, like I said, I’m going to keep watching a bit. It could all end up being the Misadventures of the Interesting People and an Interesting Cult!

Loving: Baseball – I went out and played softball on Saturday. I had so much fun, you guys. I felt like a kid again. It brought back a lot of old memories of playing baseball with my Dad, and it honestly made me miss doing sports. How do adults even do sports?

Reading: How to Be Interesting by Jessica Hagy – This topic is very important to me! Can you imagine how awful I would be if I were boring? I’d be the worst.

Hearing: Sparks by Imogen Heap – I have been a diehard IH fan since I graduated in 2007. A friend of mine gave me the soundtrack to the Last Kiss with Zach Braff, and I was hooked. This album is a great continuation of the style from Ellipse, but with some awesome electronic sound to it. Favorite track: The Listening Chair.

Doing: Poetry – No matter how serious I am about poetry, there’s a part of my brain that just imagines Dot from Animaniacs in the Dot’s Poetry Corner skits. But no, listen, I’m getting in the mode for this event on September 14 in Pittsburgh. City of Asylum will be hosting their fifth annual all day outdoor reading, “I Don’t Know What I’d Do, If I Couldn’t Speak My Mind” and I’ll be actually reading stuff. You should keep an eye out on my Facebook page and click that Like button so you can find out the deets. To get ready, I am dedicating my writing work for the next few weeks to poetry. Cool, right? I hope so.

It’s Monday. What are you doing?

Finders Fridays

Finder’s Fridays: Chris Pratt is Perfect

This week has been not really fun or awesome in the news. It’s like, every time I look, there’s something really horrible happening. And I’ve been depressed anyway, so it hasn’t helped.

Then I found this on Tumblr. Chris Pratt – true to his word from a prior interview – went to visit a children’s hospital in LA dressed like Starlord.

Guys. I am legit crying here. Not just the Internet-y ‘this is making me take on all the feels’ but like…I have tears streaming down my freaking face. So, here, go look at this on the Time site.

Chris Pratt visits the Lego Kid at LA Children's Hospital

Fiction, Fifteen Minute Fiction, Writing

Fifteen Minute Fiction: Night Riders

You know the drill. Tonight’s prompt: Write about stealing time. And yes, it’s the character from last week. Because I can.

“What took you so long to respond?”

My fingers hover over the numbers on my cell phone. It’s awful. It’s so old that I still have to hit a number 2-3 times to get the letter I need. I have to be slow and deliberate with each sentence I write. “You know I’m not around until around six or so.” This time of year, anyway.

“Yeah, that’s right, you have that awful job, or whatever.”

I nibble on my lip a bit and look around. I know she’s in Canada but I feel like she’ll be able to tell I’m lying. That I’m always, always, always lying to her. “Haha. Yup. But it pays the bills so there’s that.”

“What are you up to for the rest of the night?”

I get comfortable in my seat on the bus. I just barely made it in time to board. I’m going to ride to the middle of nowhere, get out, find somewhere else to go and get checked in before dawn. If I have to find another ditch or, worse, dig a hole to get into, I’m going to lose my mind. “Just hanging out. Maybe watch some House re-runs.”

“I love that show. I can’t believe it ended.”

“It was about time.” Somebody boards with a dog in a little carrier. It looks at me and goes ballistic. The old woman shushes it and looks at me like I must have made it freak out, like it’s my fault. I drop my eyebrows and give her a nasty glare. It’s only when she disappears to the back that the piercing yips fade out, like the last dots of an ellipses.

“Want to watch it together?”

My throat tightens. I straighten up in my seat, feel very conscious of the fact that I was not expecting this. I try to relax. “Aw, baby. You and I don’t have the same channels. US, remember?”

“Oh yeah. I forget sometimes.”

If I had a pulse, it would be drumming. I let the brief panic pass. “I wish I was there.” It’s true. I do. But I think about what it would be like, all the explaining, all the words and restrictions. I try to imagine what I would be like, if it were the other way around. Having this strange girl who you knew once show up at your door, and she’s at once everything you knew about her and yet nothing at all.

“Me too. I wish you could come visit.”

I consider the logistics of getting a passport. Could you do that at night? Could I just do it online? I could still use my name, right? Maybe, but nothing else. I think about walking up the river from New York to Canada. Taking paths through the wilderness. But where could I bed down during the day? I don’t like the idea of ground so cold you can’t dig through it. I’m uncomfortable now. I try not to let that show. “Maybe sometime. When I have the money.”

“I could send you some.”

“Honey, I don’t want your money.”

“If it meant I could have you here with me, I would pay anything.”

I feel guilty. I feel deceitful. I feel…I feel…I feel…

I stare at the phone for too long. It buzzes again. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

What does that even mean, now?

As the bus pulls away, I’m grateful for poor reception, for shorter texts and longer waits. I hope she’ll get over me. I hope she doesn’t think about it too much, because all I have is time to think and it’s no good.

5 Things, Finders Fridays

Finder Friday: 5 Things Worth Reading

It’s Friday. Aren’t you glad? I know I am. This has not been a great week in the news. I’d like to say things can only get better, but saying that sort of thing out loud never ends well. Or typing it.

Here are a few things I found this week that you might want to check out:

1. Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves — Sorry this one isn’t particularly cheery. Definitely not the normal Cracked.com fare. Thoughtful and well-written and so very, very true.

2. How Not to Write Your First Novel — Lev Grossman’s honest, poignant look back at his early twenties. I feel that any person who mocks millenials for their quarterlife crisis should give this a read. Every generation goes through this. This one just happens to have Instagram.

3. 10 Simple Ways to Become a Better Writer — Don’t let the simple title fool you. This one is a treat. I like 4, 6 and 10 the most.

4. How to Put on Your Face by Anna Akana — Again, not what you’re expecting. Believe me. Is that the theme for this week? Or just coincidence?

5. Notes from Austin Kleon’s Tumblr Office Hours — Read this. All. Of. This. Now. Please.
Did you know I actually already shared this in my weekly newsletter, “How to Have a Day Job”? You can hear about that sort of awesome stuff and more tips on maintaining your writer’s/painter’s/sketcher’s/whatever’s spirit by signing up right here!


Five More Questions!

Did you know I’m answering 100 questions on Tumblr? I totally am. I just did 5 more than when I started.

Here’s a sample:

ϟ What are you FREAKISHLY good at?

Oh man, not just good but FREAKISHLY good. Um. Walking through a city. That’s the first thing I could think of. I’m really good at looking like I know where I’m going, even when I don’t, and moving with the flow of a crowd. I never felt stressed out in NYC when trying to find a location.

Fiction, Fifteen Minute Fiction, Writing

Fifteen Minute Fiction: Bright Blood

15 minutes. No editing. No fixing. Raw.

Write about something that made you cry.

I don’t cry quite as easily now. But when I do, watch out.

I’m out in the bushes, standing against dark, against dark. The light inside the house is bright, warm, a buttery yellow. I’m on the side of the house away from it, so the light spills out into the yard and not onto my pale face.

I tried to come back, once.

I knocked on the door, and my Dad answered. He didn’t say anything for a long time, but then he came out – never once inviting me in – and nearly knocked my off the stoop when he hugged me.

I was so cold that he seemed to be broiled. My first thought was, He’s sick, he has a fever, but that wasn’t it. I just wasn’t at that steady 98-point-some degrees. Not anymore. Never again.

“I can’t come in,” I said. Technically, I absolutely could. I didn’t have to be invited. But seeing the walls and the paintings and the mirrors and the bowls and the crystal-cut antiques…it would be too painful.

“No, no, I didn’t think so,” he said. “I saw. In the paper.”

I reached up then, poked a hole in the side of my head like I was fishing for a plum in a pie. “Two shots. Pow, pow, that was it.”

“When there wasn’t a body…” He started crying, his old face doubling up into folds and wrinkles, crushing itself with grief. “I knew.”

“I can go anywhere now, though,” I tried to say. I tried to will the side of my mouth up into a smile. “Texas, Utah, Nebraska. All the places I’ve never been. I have all the time in the world.” I wanted that image to comfort him, the thought of a hundred sleepless nights on the road, practically skipping through the stillness.

“There’s that,” he said, after he had rubbed his nose with the back of his hand.

There were other questions, then: could I turn into things? What did I do before dawn? How hard was it to stomach the taste of…?

“It’s not so bad,” I said. “If I close my eyes.”

“Where do you get it?”


He had a look like I was using some sort of euphemism. I quickly said, “No, like, I go out into cow pastures at night. Like tipping. Only…” I moved my jaw up and down.

“You always did like burgers.”

We laughed.

I was glad, then. As much as I had hated becoming a young woman and going through high school and even a bit of college without a mother to tell me what was normal and what wasn’t, I really liked the fact that I would only have to say goodbye once.

“Can I get you anything?” he asked. He was turning around a bit, toward the kitchen at first, then back towards the hallway that led to my room. Well, what was my room before I went off to school.

I couldn’t bear to tell him that I didn’t need anything, so I said, “In the parlor closet, I have my good winter hunting coat. Can I have that? The one with the snap hood?”

He disappeared, and I hated myself for wanting to go, then. But even with the speed and the strength, I wouldn’t have gotten far enough away not to hear his anguish when I wasn’t there anymore. So I watched an airplane move in a slow blink across the sky, and he came back out in it.

I could smell every deer I had ever carried, every pheasant, every fox. I could taste the musk coming off of them, see the fading light in their eyes, the slow pilgrim’s progress of death.

“Bye, Dad.”

He hugged me again, all bear-fisted and red-faced.

I thought I’d be gone but I’m here. Pulled to the light of the life I used to have, so full of everything I never thought I’d miss. He’s in there, still. And I’m glad. But I can’t keep from crying.

Watch out.