Trying to Entertain the Parrot

Taking a bath usually has a variety of benefits for me.  It’s relaxing, soothes aches and pains, and frees my imagination.  I recently took a bath in the hopes of getting all three of these, but I made one big mistake.

I forgot to move my parrot to his perch in the bathroom.

Max is a rescue African grey parrot, and while he is not a fan of affection or water he does love attention and prefers to be in the same room as me.   He lets me know that he wants me to come back (or bring him with me) by making very high-pitched, loud whistles.  I’ve found that if I put him on his perch (suction-cupped to the mirror) while I shower or bathe, he’ll stay quiet.  His goal is to be in the room with me, that’s all.

This time I forgot, until I was already soaking and he started whistling.  Loudly.  At earache-inducing pitches.  There were a couple of things I could do, but I opted for the easiest route.  I whistled back.  Any sound he made, I responded, most of the time by mimicking exactly what he did.  After a little while I could play this silly game with him while I let my mind work on other things.

In many ways, having Max is like having a toddler or young child.  (I know, he’s easier than a kid because he poops on newspaper, sleeps when it’s dark, and I can put him in a cage.  I said “many” ways, not “all.”)  This little game with the bird got me to thinking about writing for children.

Kids stories are both easier and harder than adult stories.  You can have silly things happen and kids won’t care, but there are some topics that are hard to explain to kids.  Kids may love your story but if their parents aren’t happy, you failed.  Falling in both categories is length.  Kids books are easier because they are shorter, but this also makes them more difficult.  Some stories are too long to be told in a picture book, or even one kid-length chapter book.

I’ve given myself a little challenge, and I plan to share the results with you.  Using the same basic premise as Dragon Pendant (with lots of latitude to change the plot) I’m going to write a kid-style short story called Dragon Princess.  You’ll have to let me know what you think of it.  🙂

With my humblest apologies

What a great way to start off hosting my own serial story – I don’t have anything to publish!

Last night I had a Cathy moment.  You know, “Ack!” 

In the process of working a very long week and trying to get posts done so they can be scheduled in advance, I somehow missed writing the next section of With Honor.  While I am capable of writing a section quickly and posting it last-minute, I didn’t even have time for that.

If you are here to read With Honor, part 6, feel free to peruse the other stuff on here and please come back next week!  I’ll have the next section done by then.  And yes, this is probably my only post for today. 

My sincerest apologies for letting you down…

Working Sequentially

Sometimes things have to be done in a certain sequence.  Dishes can’t be loaded into the dishwasher until the clean ones are unloaded.  Socks must go on first before shoes.  They can even be long, involved sequences; the laundry can’t go in the dryer until the luggage is moved, but the luggage can’t be put away unless you find a new place to store the paper towels, etc.

Sequence doesn’t usually matter to me when it comes to writing a story.  I try to work in sequence but if I have a scene well-developed in my head I’ll usually write it.  I’ve mentioned before some of the pitfalls of this, including needing to go back and re-work a section once the lead in to it is written.  There are some things, though, that have to go before or after others.  A character can’t react appropriately in a scene if the author hasn’t developed the character, and the end of the story is no good if you don’t know at least a little bit how to get there.

Even writing out-of-order requires sequence for the reader to follow.  Movies and books with excessive flashbacks and peeks forward work for some concepts, but can be irritating in others.  I know that writing chronologically helps me keep everything straight, and I’m hoping that it works for my readers as well.

When “Write!” is on the to-do list

“Write” is almost always on my to-do list.  A typical weekend list includes things like groceries, clean the kitchen, and laundry, and right there with it is “write.”  (I usually put my to-do lists on my mirror in overhead marker, and erase things as they are completed.  Where do you put yours?) 

Tonight it is big, in CAPS, with two exclamation points next to it.  I have a trip looming during which I may or may not have internet access and time to write, so I want to get several blog posts ahead.  I also need to get the next section of With Honor done and posted for Sunday.  Yikes!

To make the evening easier, I’ve moved away from my TV, made a list of some ideas, and gotten started.  Here’s hoping I can hold out the writing blitz for a bit and knock out a couple posts (at least) before my brain runs out of steam!

Feeling All Alone in the World

We’ve all had those moments – those times when it feels like there is no one there for you, like you are all alone in the world.  They are our low points, our deep wells of sadness, when it seems as if nothing can comfort us.  I had one of those experiences last night.  A culmination of little things, silly by the light of day, weighed on me until finally I gave in and let them overwhelm me for a while.

Of course, very few of us are truly alone in the world.  Alone in the room we are in, maybe, or even in the city we live in, but there is usually someone we can call, text, or even chat with on Facebook if we really need them.  It only took a couple of texts from a friend and some enforced activity (cleaning and dancing to the radio) to lift me from my funk.

Being the “method” author that I am, I always like to use my personal emotional experiences to enrich my writing.  The main character in Dragon Pendant is in the perfect situation for the same to happen to her; she’s in an unknown place, learning unfamiliar things, with no friends or family around.  (At least, they aren’t her friends yet.)  I’m getting ready to add in a fight with her tutor/mentor, the only person she really knows, and that should throw her into a crazy emotional tailspin.  There is a fantastic resolution waiting for her after it, but she doesn’t know that yet.  My tiny emotional crisis is a great place to draw from in order to write a believable, large-scale version.

Journaling

A lot of the books about writing (and even my high school English teacher) recommend journaling as a way to work on writing.  I’ve never been consistent at keeping a journal, but if I was it would be similar to this blog: writing whatever happened to come to mind.  It might even be a bit more random, since here I try to write about writing.

Some people use journaling differently.  It’s more of a diary, a record of their day or their thoughts and feelings.  Some people even use a journal to work out their feelings and for self-reflection.  I’m good at expressing myself in writing, but not at figuring out my emotions or how my psyche works.  That’s easier for me to talk out – I’ll even talk out my story if I’m having trouble with it.  That’s one of the things I value about my friends: their willingness to let me talk their ear off.  🙂

self-reflective or otherwise, blogging is about as close as I get to journaling.  I always set out with good intentions when I try to journal, but never have the follow-through to do it everyday.  An audience works wonders; I’ve been very consistent all year blogging.  🙂  Thanks for letting me “talk” your ear off, too!

Making Time

I don’t particularly like the phrase “make time,” especially in the context of “if it’s important, you’ll make time for it.”   It’s not supposed to be meant literally, but you can’t actually manufacture time and sometimes there is none to be found. 

Occasionally you have a day where you don’t get to eat lunch until 2:30pm, because work got in the way.  Maybe that special project you want to work on isn’t started yet, because all the things you have to take care of take precedence.

For me it is easy to make time to blog.  (In fact, I’m doing it right now, sneaking it in between work and my plans for the evening.)  Writing takes more time in general; committing to a chapter means planning to spend at least half an hour or more in front of my computer.  The tricky part is not making time to write.  It’s actually finding the motivation in those moments when I do have time.

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