Draft Choices

If you’re a blogger do you find that sometimes titles for blog posts pop into your head? You might not have anything in mind to write about, then, wham! I have that happen all the time, and sometimes the titles even develop into something that’s printable.

Right now I’m figuratively sitting on half a dozen titles, some I’ve attempted to flesh out with additional words, while others have remained untouched.

Here are a few titles in my draft file. Hopefully by sharing these some creative urge will strike. Otherwise, I’m going to write more about my cat’s urination habits, and I think we’ve all had enough of that. I have anyway.

Things We Mourn (I think this is going to be a poem)

Weighing In (me, talking. Earth shatttering, I know)

Life on Mars (rambling poem–it rhymes sort of)

About Your Mom (everything the grandkids need to know about my daughter, their mom)

That Song (I have no idea)

Collective Whole (A thing I thought and then forgot)

Are you a “Title” person? Does the title come first or do you add one just before you publish? I’m truly curious.

Peace, people

The Write Stuff

Almost every day for more than four years I’ve written something and posted it on WordPress. In the beginning, just pressing the “publish” button was enough to make my blood pressure rise and my palms perspire. Would my words be good enough? Did I have the “write” stuff? What if someone publicly laughed at my incompetence, told me to go back to knitting potholders?*

I used to worry about stats. There were awful days in the beginning when only two or three people, mostly relatives, took the time to read my blog. Then, slowly I gained a few followers, and I began reading others’ blogs and becoming part of a community of writers, until finally I forgot about the nerves and the stats and just wrote. Nowadays I’m liable to hit publish before I’m even finished with a piece. Yeah, I’m laidback like that.

Over the holidays, I took a big step (for me) and submitted a few poems to be considered for inclusion in an anthology about vultures. Yes. Vultures. When I saw the theme I laughed out loud and commented to a blogging friend that I practically live in Vulture Land.

“Then you should write that!” he replied.

I felt as nervous submitting those vulture poems as I did my first few days of blogging. I’m terrible at following instructions–and wasn’t sure I was doing everything as prescribed. Had I successfully removed all identifying information? Were my margins correct? Would my cover letter be too angst-ridden or needy sounding? After walking the floor for a good half hour, I finally clicked the send button.

And now I wait.

*In the first month of blogging a reader told me to cut the bullshit and stop being so cute. In reply I said, I’m sorry, but this is my bullshit, and I can’t help being cute.

Peace, people.

So Far Behind

Who’d ever think that being retired could be so stressful? I took a few days off to enjoy a girls’ weekend in Nashville only to come home to find a couple hundred unread blog posts from people I follow.

I tried to play catch up on Monday evening, but I only got halfway through. And I apologize for not giving my full attention to every post. You’re all wonderful bloggers; otherwise, I wouldn’t be following you. I’ll comment meaningfully at some point. Just not today.

I’m also behind on writing for my own blog. For the first time since I began this adventure in writing I took four whole days off, and the world went on without me. Unbelievable. Here I thought that if I didn’t post something every single day the earth would cease to revolve around the sun.

Laundry piled up in my absence. Email accumulated in my inbox. Text messages went unanswered. Even worse, Studly Doright went unkissed. Well, I hope he did. At least I’ve taken care of that issue.

Tomorrow I’ll make another attempt to catch up. And I might kiss Studly again just for good measure.

Peace, people.

Writing is Hard

Stop laughing! Seriously. I’ve been working on a little novel for a long time now, but I’d run into a roadblock and I didn’t know whether to go over it, around it, tunnel under it, or trash it.

Yesterday morning while the technician was fumfering around with our sick air conditioning unit I had a nudge of inspiration and opened up the dormant manuscript on the computer. Since the story had been abandoned for such a long time I settled in and read it from the beginning. And I have to say I really like it. The characters feel like old friends and the part that once seemed like a major roadblock now feels more right.

You know how when you put on makeup in the morning and at first you aren’t crazy about the way it looks, but if you step away from the mirror for a few minutes and come back to your reflection you look great? No? Well, that happens to me all the time. And that’s exactly how I felt about the perceived roadblock. It now sounded appropriate.

When I got to the place where I’d left off in March I had to figure out how to nudge my characters forward. Now, this might come as a surprise to you, but my characters really like to talk. Several times I’ve had to call a halt to their conversations for the sake of action. I remind them that this isn’t Waiting for Godot. Lazy bums.

I think I’ve accomplished that now. Stuff is happening. People are moving. Jugglers are juggling. Seriously. Now I just need to tie all my loose ends together and complete this thing. For the first time I can actually see a finish line.

Okay, characters, break’s over. Quit talking and follow my lead. The checkered flag is in sight. Maybe I’ve got this. Maybe not. We’ll keep chugging along and hope for the best.

Peace, people.

More on Louise Penny’s Visit to Tallahassee

Yesterday’s post about my dashed hopes of getting to meet visiting author Louise Penny went on longer than I’d planned, but there were some fun details surrounding her time in Tallahassee that I thought were worth a mention.

Ms. Penny, author of the acclaimed Inspector Gamache series, chose to launch her newest book to a Tallahassee audience when she could’ve gone to any number of much more populous cities to do so. I’d wondered why and before she spoke to a standing room only crowd at Faith Presbyterian on Tuesday night the reason was revealed via the introduction.

It seems a group of women from the church had read and discussed a number of her books and decided to write Ms. Penny a letter telling her what devoted fans they were and offering to take her to dinner. In Canada. That’s where the author lives. They sent the letter off never expecting to hear back, but were elated when she responded telling them she’d love to meet them. The book club members made the pilgrimage to Canada and treated Ms. Penny to lunch where friendships were formed.

Earlier this year one of the group’s members contacted Midtown Reader, a wonderful locally owned bookstore in Tallahassee, asking the owner if she’d read any of Ms. Penny’s books. Indeed, the owner was a big fan herself and had already planned to ask the author to visit here. Connections were made, one thing led to another, and Ms. Penny decided to launch the book from our town.

Again, I cannot stress enough how beautifully written her books are. Yes, they’re murder mysteries, but they’ll renew your hopes for humanity. You’ll also want to dwell in the fictional town of Three Pines. I’m planning to build a small house there myself, and maybe open a little shop down the street from the bistro. I’ll sell artsy t-shirts with witty quotes and hats adorned tastefully with antlers. Maybe.

Peace, people.

Great Expectations, Dashed yet Fulfilled

On Monday afternoon I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and read a post that caused me to do a double take. A post from a local bookstore announced that author Louise Penny was appearing in Tallahassee on Tuesday evening to launch her newest book in the Inspector Gamache series.

Quickly I read the details and called the bookstore to purchase a ticket. I freaked out a little when my call went to the store’s voicemail, but I left a message and then immediately dialed the number again. Bingo!! I was so excited! I just knew that I was going to meet Ms. Penny and she’d be smitten by my wit and intelligence and we’d become best friends forever (BFFs, don’t you know) while she composed a thoughtful note to write in my book.

The event didn’t start until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, so I was sure to arrive 45 minutes early, feeling certain I’d get a front row seat. Ha! When I arrived, the parking lot of Faith Presbyterian Church where the event was being held was completely full. I drove around for ten minutes just trying to locate a parking spot.

Then, when I walked in the door my hopes of getting anywhere near the front were dashed. The place was almost completely full already. That was okay, I reasoned, the ticket price included a copy of Ms. Penny’s newest book, so I didn’t really need to be up front, since surely she’d be signing copies.

Well, when I checked in to get my book I learned that only the first 150 folks to purchase tickets would get to meet the author. Apparently that information had been included in the FB post, but in my extreme excitement to see Louise Penny I hadn’t read all of the details. I was bummed out. Seriously bummed out. But I found a seat near the back of the sanctuary and settled in for an ordinary evening in which Louse Penny and I do not become BFFs.

The crowd was huge and excited. I began visiting with folks near me and reveled in their stories of connecting with the characters in Ms. Penny’s books. My own story included my daughter insisting that I read Still Life, the first offering in the Inspector Gamache series. I complied even though murder mysteries aren’t really my cup of tea, unless they’re set in the future and/or include zombies, elves, and/or aliens. But once I’d read the first novel I was hooked, and quickly read the rest of the books in the series. These books are so well crafted that they almost transcend genre.

When Louise Penny stepped up to the pulpit (we were in a church after all) she instantly charmed everyone present. She spoke of her life and early writing influences, how she’d overcome alcoholism and how she’s handling the loss of her husband to dementia in 2016. She spoke of writing to satisfy her own needs, not those of an audience, and of needing to write characters she personally cares for. She was entrancing. Maybe I didn’t get to meet her up close and personal, but I feel like I know her now, at least that bit of her she shared with all of us.

And I have her brand new book that she launched right here in Tallahassee, Florida!

If you haven’t read her books, I urge you to do so. Start from the beginning with “Still Life,” though. They’re better when read in sequence.

I’m still floating from Tuesday night’s experience. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t actually get to meet her. I’d have been comatose with joy, if that’s possible.

Peace, and good reading, people.

Forgetful

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve forgotten to do something, but you can’t remember what it is you’ve forgotten, so you stumble through your morning with that little nagging thought tugging at the back of your mind?

Now, if you made it through that mess of a sentence/paragraph above you might be thinking, “Hell, I know what she forgot. It’s the punctuation mark known as a period. That woman forgot how to use a period to end a sentence.”

You could be right. That sentence definitely could’ve used a period, but what I remembered as I was writing it was that I had forgotten to write anything at all for the blog today, and while this blog post was meant for tomorrow it now has to be pressed into duty for today, and yes, I still need to remember to use a period every now and then. Kind of like breathing.

Now I just need to remember that I haven’t already written something for tomorrow. Oh! Will it never end?

Peace, people!

Take Heart

Hand-written notes are a rarity these days. People text or tweet, hit the send button, and voila! Instant delivery. I’m guilty of choosing the path of least resistance myself even while I value the art of a beautifully executed note.

One day last week I was walking between shops in northeast Tallahassee when I spotted a folded slip of paper on the sidewalk. (I marked it up to protect the recipient’s privacy.)

Intrigued I picked the paper up and looked around. No one was near me, so I opened the note. You’d have done the same, right?

Ignore the questionable spelling and the substitutions of “U” for “you” and “2” for “to”. This is an encouraging note. I’d have been pleased to have received such a missive.

My friend Flo in Tennessee writes great notes. She finds humorous cards and sends along her thoughts in lovely cursive.

My friend, Lila, also has a knack for notes:

While writing this post I realized that I have saved two huge files filled solely with hand written notes! Some are silly, some sweet, some outrageous. As I went through them I realized they’d fill up a binder. I think I just found a project for this year. I might need to stock up on tissues, though. Tears might be shed.

Peace, people.

But I Don’t WANT To Write

I write something for this blog and post daily. I’ve done so for several years now, but last night the toddler in me was balking. Toddler Nana didn’t WANT to write anything, and nobody could make her.

When I crawled into bed I said to myself, “Self, you don’t have to write anything tomorrow if you don’t feel like it.”

I congratulated myself profusely. Then my brain spent the next hour and 20 minutes churning out one forgettable blog post idea after another.

“Okay!” I snarled at myself. “I’ll write SOMETHING, but I won’t enjoy it.”

Good news: I purchased some new eye liner and will most likely be able to find humor in the application process for a future post. Grasping for straws, folks. Ooh! There’s a title.

Peace, people.