Category: Uncategorized

The Thoughts of a Bipolar Writer

spring_daisy

There is something about the rites of Spring that makes me go off the deep end. No lie.

I can’t really explain it properly but it’s like this presence in the air, like someone has sprinkled cocaine in the ventilation system and I just got a really good dose and now I’m coming off the high and tweaking. Okay, well, maybe it’s not quite like that, but the sentiment is similar.

The truth is that I do my best writing in the winter months. My friend Elizabeth calls it my “introspective time” and everyone around me knows not to call me or wonder where I am. They know. I’m at my desk or in the La Fuma chair or somewhere writing away like a mad man. In a very anti-social way, of course, but still productive.

But the thing is, the Spring, it messes with my head and therefore with my writing mojo. Suddenly, the daffodils are blooming, the gardens are calling, there are lonely vegetable seeds tucked away in a folder somewhere pleading to be let out . . . it can all be very distracting. Just seeing the sun outside and knowing that my skin is itching for some Vitamin D is enough to sabotage my whole day.

And that makes me crazy in a certifiable sort of way. Suddenly, I’m obsessed with mulch and flower beds and weird DIY stuff like making lamps and using spray paint on just about anything. Seriously. It’s an addiction – I need help. I sit at my homemade desk and stare at the screen trying deperately to will myself to do something useful, but alas, my lap top can’t hold a candle to my beehive brimming with bees.

So what does one do?

I don’t know, but I’m trying to figure it out. When I do, I’ll let you know.

 

Whip It Now Available

devo

By now, everyone has had their share of marshmallow peeps and chocolate eggs. And if it wasn’t obvious, I’m sort of late in posting a new short story. I said Friday, I know. Holidays have a tendency to creep up on your like that.

HERE YOU GO.

A word of warning about this short story. This is the first time I’ve dabbled in futuristic dystopian fiction and I have to say that I didn’t really enjoy it. I found myself scrambling for technophile type stuff that just didn’t come naturally to me. In essence, I had to make a whole host of stuff up on the fly and even now I cringe a bit. I’m better with the dark, gothic stuff any day of the week apparently. So make of it what you will.

Oh and here’s Devo for those of you who want something stuck in your head all day:

Clarion West = fail

Well, the short answer is that I didn’t get in. My rejection email came last night while I was either in the middle of Netflix or sleeping. I’m not sure which. Either way, the outcome is the same . . . I won’t be going to Clarion West this year.

I have to say that it’s a mixed blessing; on one hand, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get in. (Part of me felt that there was some sort of karmic destiny in the mix given the fact that  Neil was teaching this year) At the same time, being away for six weeks from my family and garden and having to pay nearly $5K for the privilege was a worrying thought indeed. Alot of money and a lot of time. Would I even measure up once I got there?

I don’t have to worry about those things anymore, but it still sucks. It’s like when you have a great disappointment you try to be gracious about it by making up excuses for why it’s okay. It’s almost lame to do so, but you just can’t help yourself. That’s kinda like the way I am this morning – plus I’m getting sick. (Instead of karmic destiny try karma biting me in the ass.)

My last words on this subject are this: my husband, Jon, said one thing to me that has made it a worthwhile experience. Applying for Clarion West made me take up short stories again, something I hadn’t done in over twenty years. While I did it, albeit unwillingly, I found out that I actually enjoyed it. It’s a completely different experience from writing a novel, and something I’ll continue to do. If it hadn’t been for Clarion West, The Mixtape Collection would still be a pipe dream somewhere.

If you’d like to read my short story submission you can find it here. Until next year.

xo
shawnee

Thanks for all the fish. We still miss you.

douglas_adams

I met Douglas Adams in a very surreal way:

On a boat, in the middle of the night, on the Thames in 1998, drunk off my ass. He was very polite and smiley. I was very loud and obnoxious. I’m sure I cracked some sort of H2G2 joke that was completely inappropriate. Yet, if my recollection recalls, he didn’t seem to be overly offended. In fact, my memory seems to recall him responding something like, “Ah, I’ve never heard that before.” Of course, it was said in a dry British humor sort of way. I’m not too clear on the details, but I’d like to think he was being nice to me.*

The reason why I was even on this boat was because I just happened to have very lovely friends who had just worked their assess off on Starship Titanic and they were celebrating its launch with an epic boat party. Yes, I know I’m a jammy bastard – we all were back then. We roamed hipster parties in packs in the late ’90s. The thinking was this, “Why go to a party alone when you could take twenty of your closest friends?”

Needless to say, it was brilliant, a once and a lifetime experience, and something that I will fondly remember for the rest of my days.

But back to Douglas.

don't_panic

I didn’t really appreciate the effect that he had on my life until I was much much older. I had  to look back at my life to see the subtle influences: seeing The Guide the first time at the age of seven because my hippy uncle was reading it, watching Dr. Who with my doctor, Tom Baker, and not even knowing that Douglas was behind the scenes somewhere. Then nothing for several years until I was old enough to read HHGTTG myself. Little smatterings of Douglas working on my young, tender psyche, yet I was too immature or frankly, too busy chasing boys to see it.

It wasn’t until Douglas died that I cottoned on, but by then, it was too late. And of course, in typical twenty-something style I got caught up in my own drama and the thought past out of my head like a sieve.

Until now.

By some sheer coincidence, I just happened to be re-reading H2G2 last week when we were without power. It began to dawn on me as I re-read The Guide how brilliant Douglas Adams was. There was no one else like him. His style, his voice was like no other before him and anyone after would only ever be an imitation. I will always want to try a pangalactic gargleblaster. Or hear some Vogon poetry even if it does indeed kill me. The number of cultural references that Douglas has imparted on us still astounds me. And as a writer, he humbles me.

There are some things in my life that I wish I could take back – that night on the boat would be one of them. I would’ve had a few less drinks and I would’ve listened more as Douglas waxed poetic. Perhaps I might’ve refrained from my joke and said something more gracious and more deserving of his talent.

I guess I’ll never know.

Today, Douglas Adams would’ve been 61 years old. To him I say . . . Happy Birthday and thanks for all the fish.

 

*Too many pints has a tendency to do that to one’s self.

OMG. Dad’s on TV.

Solved image copyright of Investigation Discovery

image copyright Investigation Discovery

It’s not every day that you’re watching a program in your Netflix queue only to find that your dad’s on it.

I think the conversation with Jon went something like this –

Me: Oh wow. This one is in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Jon: Yeah.
Me: I wonder if my dad’s going to be in it.
(pans to shot of TV where my father’s scowling face immediately appears; camera pans back to my face, immobile with shock)
Me: Holy crap! There’s dad!
Jon: Yeah.
Me: No, I’m serious! Holy crap! My dad’s on this program! Your father-in-law is right there.
Jon: Um, yeah.

Honestly, Jon isn’t normally that wooden and it’s probably not even his original reaction, but I was so shocked with mine that I kinda forgot what he said, but you get the point.

I just saw my dad. On the Discovery Channel. On a detective crime program.

Okay, so yes, Dad had told me way back that he was being filmed for some program or another and I thought it was some program like I don’t know public access or something. I’m pretty sure we tried to tape it, but got the program wrong. I had completely forgotten about it.

Until now.

So my dad’s talking head showing up on my television in the comfort of my living room wasn’t what I was expecting . . . so how does this tie into my blog post?

As a writer, some days I think I’ve hit the genetic lottery so to speak. I feel humbled to have grown up with a father who’s been a forensic detective my whole life and a mom who knows her way around just about any medical conundrum (my mom’s an awesome nurse practitioner). I mean, could you ask for any better parental background than crime and medicine. I mean talk about an unfair advantage, right?

I don’t blame you. I think it’s unfair, too, but I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m just now appreciating that normal kids didn’t grow up knowing what blood spatter meant or how to create a tracheostomy out of a ball point pen. I’m not kidding. If the zombie apocalypse had happened in the ’80s, I would’ve been covered by all the angles. Bullets check. A bad ass dad who knew how to use said bullets and could also give you at least a half dozen trajectory hypotheses for which way the blood would go when you shot said zombie in the head. Yeah, pretty cool, eh? My mom is also right up there in terms of coolness, but this post isn’t about her. *Sorry, Mom!

Right so where am I going with this?

Some days I forget about all that extraneous information that was lying around when I was growing up and how I can utilize it in my stories. And that’s a note to all of you other writers out there. The old adage of “write what you know,” should be amended to “write what you know or about anything that your family might be experts in”. Because alot of times, I think we forget about them. Or at least I do. Not in the “forgot to send a card” way, but more like I’ll be writing a chapter where there’s a crime scene and I’m doing internet searches to make sure that I’m staying true to actual forensic procedure.

I’m not making this up. This actually happened to me while writing a scene in Watcher. Ask me if I called my dad even once? Nope. Nada. Didn’t even cross my mind. In fact, it didn’t sink in until my dad had read the book and called me up to say that my crime scenes were pretty realistic. Did I get that from him via osmosis? I’ll never know.

So when planning that next book or scene, take a moment to to think about how someone you know may be able to help you. I know it seems so simple of a concept, but you’d be surprised how many times you forget this when you’re in the zone. That little bit of extra thought might’ve save me some time if I had remembered about my dad.

I’d like to think that seeing my dad’s face on the TV is a good reminder of this. Maybe now I’ll never forget that lesson.

And dad, that was crazy cool. Who knew you had it in you?