What I've Written About

Friday, April 30, 2010

Life Lyrics

I am a person who walks around with my own personal soundtrack running around in my head. I think I remember each moment of life with a song attached to it.
One of my earliest memories is riding on the back of my dad's motorbike to watch him practice for a community theater production of Camelot. I distinctly recall sitting on the folding chairs in the PHS auditorium. My legs barely reached the end of the chair, but when I listened to Lancelot and Gueniviere sing "If ever I should leave you, it wouldn't be in autumn." it captivated me. My dream was to play Annie on Broadway, and I would practice in front of the mirror, belting out "Tomorrow...Tomorrow" like a true star.
Another musical moment that stands out happened on the 24th of July, a holiday in Utah. I have a huge family with cousins who truly feel like brothers and sisters to me. On this day, we had a family picnic in the canyon. My oldest cousin Linda, the coolest person in the world to us, brought some Alabama music and we staged an old fashioned hoe-down in a clearing in the middle of the forest. To this day, I can't hear the lyrics "If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band" and not want to find a meadow and start clogging. (Something I really shouldn't do anymore.)
Fast forward to High School and my first boyfriend. The movie Beauty and the Beast had just come out and the song was all over the radio (The Celine Dion version, not the Angela Lansbury one--Thank Goodness). It became "Our song", which is really weird when you think about it. Anyway, we had planned to go to Prom together. I was President of the dance team and actually had the opportunity to help teach and then lead the Promenade. I was pumped and had my extremely lacey pink dress all ready to go. The theme of Prom was even "Beauty and the Beast" (once again, strangeness). It was going to be perfect. Then, the people we were doubling with got in a car accident. My boyfriend wanted to stay at the hospital and make sure they were okay. Now, not to admit how completely self-centered I am, but I thought that was lame. When I asked if we could just run and do the Promenade, my boyfriend called me selfish and refused to leave. I had to call my dad to pick me up from the hospital. I held it together until I had pulled all the miles and miles of satin around me in the front seat and closed the door. The song Beauty and the Beast STILL makes me want to cry.
I tell you all of this because writing is practically impossible for me without some form of music attached to it. When I'm writing a sad moment, it always helps to bust out a ballad. Powerful girl moments beg for a touch of P!nk. And an action sequence just isn't the same unless Linkin Park or Foo Fighters put in their own two cents.
So, to follow the masses, I have created a playlist for my book, The Deception Virus. Either the lyrics spoke to me, or the feeling-tone of the song just encompassed what I pictured, but I love every single butt-kicking one. Of the whole list, I have to give a shout out to two artists whose albums were common listening throughout this entire process. First of all, P!nk, whose whole attitude entirely encompasses the way my protagonist looks at the world--especially the song 'Stupid Girls'. The 'Backspacer' album by Pearl Jam is amazing. I'm going to come out of the closet and admit I am a fan. But only because of this latest album. The lyrics to 'Just Breathe' are the way my main character's dad feels about his family, and frankly, every time I hear it, I want to cry.
These are the things that inspire.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shank You Very Much Mr. Woods

*NOTE* I found this in the editing pile of my old blog. It's a little late, but since I am a person who can't seem to give things up...here it is.

Golf was never my thing growing up. Frankly, my dad was a farmer, and golf was something 'fer the upper class'. My husband, however, was raised on the golf course. When we were dating, it became a requirement (at least in my mind) to pretend I knew what golf was all about. The bad thing was that golf seemed to come on the television every single Sunday, and so I had to do a lot of lying.
Talk about a sport with a lot of weird lingo. Sometimes my husband would pump his fist and shout 'EAGLE, YES!' I would search and search the skies for some golden eagle soaring through the air, and couldn't understand why he was so excited seeing one. It also seemed that seeing a 'birdie' was a good thing too. I couldn't figure it out, and I didn't even know an animal called a 'bogey'. I thought maybe it was an imaginary being, like the boogey man, that no one could really see. It made sense in my mind because people seemed really upset when one came around. (Plus, give me a break, I'm a blond.)
Eventually, when marriage became an option, I had to come clean and admit I had no idea what he was talking about. What ensued, was ten years of learning the sport of golf. Now, fifteen years since saying "I do", I can actually watch a golf game and tell you exactly what is happening and what the name of the shot is they are making. I think my husband's proudest moment was when we watched Tiger Woods win the Masters and I knew the other guy had to bogey his shot and Tiger had to birdie his. I saw actual love in his eyes that day, and now golf on Sunday is something I love to take an afternoon nap to.
For those of you not acquianted with the fascinating game of golf, a shank is one of the worst shots you can make in golf. Most of the time it happens out of the blue, when you're having one of the most amazing games of your life. You get up to hit, miss the club head, and instead hit the ball with the handle. This causes the ball to fly off into some weird destination.
Now because I have this learned love for the golf game, I can see that Tiger Wood's life is a shank golf hit. His life was going good, he forgot to pay attention to those closest to him, and wham-o, his life goes veering off into the bushes.(I mean look at this picture--we should have known)
To be truthful, I was really disappointed in Tiger when the mistress(es) news hit the airwaves. Okay, that is a huge lie. I was disgusted in him, and even more distressed when he came back to golf and got more publicity than the winner of the match he played in. Frankly, I'm sick of famous cheating men getting pat on the back for being brave enough to return to something they are making millions of dollars off of anyway. Yeah, real noble.
Then I realized something.
I should be thanking Tiger.
You see, if he could sleep around with whomever he wanted and then claim he had an addiction, well what's to stop me from doing the same thing with other various weaknesses I currently have. (Thankfully, racking up notches on my bedpost is not one of them.)
Some of the things I think I would like to use the 'I-couldn't-help-it-I'm-addicted-to' card on are listed below:

The Leaving-items-whereever-you-feel-like-it Addiction
I worked retail and hated when I'd find something that belonged in the clothing section lying in the middle of housewares. Because of this, whenever I realize I don't need something in my cart, I hike back and put it where it belongs. NO LONGER. Now I will leave that bottle of shampoo mixed in with the size 7 shoes and not feel the least bit guilty. I can just say, "I'm addicted to leaving things in weird places."(I bet some of these people have my same addiction--it's very prevalent, you know)

The Hogging-the-closet Addiction
Stacking my clothes in my husband's side of the closet is a current past time of mine. I honestly have a ton of clothes, but nothing to wear. So...I need a little bit more closet space. I can't help it. Sometimes I just have to hang my dress in his polo shirt section. He seriously hates it! BUT I don't have to worry about it anymore because I can just say, "I'm addicted to putting my clothes in your side of the closet."

The Shouting-obscenities-at-stupid-drivers Addiction
I'm not a gigantic swearer (haha)However, when I drive, I cuss a lot. Everyone is going either too fast or too slow or turning in the opposite direction I want them to turn in. I knew it was getting really bad when my nine year old son said, "You do realize they can't hear you." and I instantly thought, well then I better buy a bullhorn. Thank goodness I don't even need to worry about it anymore. Because I can just say, "I"m addicted to calling people &*%)@$^ wearing (%^&%^>?-ers when I drive."(Move you explicative explicative cuss word)

Anyway, you get the idea. For these many weeks I've sat around thinking about how Tiger destroyed the notion that little kids should look up to him, when I should have been thanking him for giving me an out on ever having to be a decent person again. It's all win-win.

I am curious though--what are some of the things the rest of you would like to claim "addiction disability" to?

Monday, April 26, 2010

And on the First Day...a Writer was Born

Today, I've been trying to remember when my love for writing started. Then I realized, that it was not one set moment in time or place, but a series of events that propelled me to get my work out there.
When I was little, I remember my mom reading me the book Where the Red Fern Grows. I was pretty young, but I distinctly recall sobbing my eyes out when the dogs died at the end of the book (sorry, if that's a spoiler for you.). I have never read that book since. I'm worried about ruining something that was truly magical to me. That book taught me that written words have power. Power to make someone laugh, cry, or cuss depending on their mood. Once I understood that--the love of words in general could not be contained.
A couple of years later, two things happened that increased that love exponentially. One, I was the winner in a contest throughout the whole third grade to read the most amount of pages. I can proudly state that I read 20,000 pages that year. I think I won some money--I don't really remember--but what I do remember is that part of the prize package included the book A Wrinkle in Time. I read it cover to cover and understood not one word of it. At first, I was disappointed, until I realized...if they would give me a book this weird and hard to understand, they must think I'm really smart. However, I shelved the book (that is until sixth grade when I read it again, three times, and loved it.)
The second thing that happened, is that I won third place in a writing contest. It was a letter to Santa asking him to quit smoking. The section I was most proud of went something like this. 'If you don't quit smoking, you'll get really sick, and Mrs. Claus will have to take care of you. Pretty soon, she'll get sick of it and start to hate you. The next thing you know, she'll be suing you for ruining her life. So you see, Santa, smoking isn't worth it.' Don't ask me where that logic came from, but I remember adults laughing about it. I thought it was pretty cool I could make adults laugh with stuff that I wrote. From then on, I strove to be funny in my writing.
In ninth grade, in my English class, I wrote a story called 'A Day in the Life of a Flea'. The main characters were all fleas living on one dog. It was a love story, and the main character--Fleadrick I think his name was--steals a girl from the school bully. The bully breaks his leg, but it isn't so bad because he has so many others. In the end, Fleadrick learns that all is fair in love and war. I wrote it in one night, and the English teacher ended up reading it to all of his classes. (At least, that is what he told me.) In my own class, I was both extremely proud and extremely embarrassed. When the other kids in my class period laughed about it too, however, it was all worth it.
The next step on my road to becoming a writer came my Sophmore year of high school. Mrs. Bridges, my English teacher, assigned us a persuasive paper about the Gulf War. I, of course, procrastinated it and ended up writing it during an assembly we luckily had that morning. My paper was 'for' going to war and the benefits to humanity when we help those less fortunate than us. I didn't have a good feeling about it. Mrs. Bridges was one of the hardest teachers I ever had. When the paper came back, however, a huge A+ graced the top of it, with a little note. 'See me after class'. I sat through the rest of the period with a huge stomach ache, worried that she would tell me she knew I had written it in an hour, and the good grade was a joke. After everyone had cleared out, I trudged up to her desk, ready to hear the worst, but it wasn't bad news. Mrs. Bridges told me I was an amazing writer and asked if I would give her the paper to submit to a magazine. I never knew if she actually did, or if the article was ever published, but I gained confidence that maybe I really could BE a writer.
Fast forward to college and a professor I will never forget the name of--Dr. Diana Major Spencer. My first paper in her class scored only a C, the lowest grade I had ever gotten in an English class. She told us we were welcome to revise as many times as we wanted to bring our grades up one full grade. I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into that paper, and after seven (yes, seven) revisions I pulled the grade up to a B. What a lesson that was...writing is hard work? What? There must surely be something wrong. Writing isn't supposed to be hard. Yet here I was, up into the wee hours of morning, revising and changing and editing. It just didn't seem fair. After graduation, my writing career pretty much ended. I got my diploma in Elementary Education and became a teacher, the only job I ever unequivacully loved. My favorite subject to teach, by far, was writing. I attempted stories and novels, but could never get my characters jump out of the page and join me in writing about them. Each story seemed to be missing that internal spark that made it come to life. Finally, one day, I decided to sit down and write a novel, a romance novel. I made myself the main character, and my high school boyfriend the love interest. Suddenly, using real people for the characters, I could see them as something more than just a name on a page. Characters were people with feelings and back stories and skeletons in their closet. It was a turning point in my writing.
I scrapped that novel, but the lessons I learned from it have changed me as a writer. Now, with one novel completed and under my belt, I feel like my characters actually exist outside the book, like if I went to this town they live in, I might run into them. Characters and voice have become my strengths.
In all, this writing life has been an adventure. Now I'm taking it to the next level--trying to publish. This, I realize, is where the work begins, but I'm willing to go the distance. I've won, I've lost, and I've learned. Now I'm ready to share my work with the world.
So now you know me, the writer. Get ready to share your stories with me...