Writing Process Blog Tour

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Happy Monday Folks! Wait, is that… yes, I think it is! It’s spring!

Today I am taking part in a writing process blog tour to help promote my writing process and introduce you to others. I was graciously invited by Jim Scott, fellow member of the WCYR – thank you Jim for bringing me into the folds! Jim is a poet, writer and world traveler with a great number of stories to share. Please visit Jim’s blog at http://www.caridiangroup.com/blogged-passages/

As part of the writing tour, I was asked these four questions – to which I have provided my answers based on where my writing is at today.

1) What am I working on?

These days I spend my time writing short stories – some humour, some fiction, and some just because. I started a freelance writing business recently, so I am currently spending more time on query letters, articles, and corporate writing, and less on creative writing.


2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

What I most enjoy writing are real life stories. I enjoy making people laugh and to do that through writing is more difficult than it sounds – so I began this blog to work on my humour writing, and to have some fun along the way. I believe humour is one of the most difficult genres, but perhaps I am just biased. I don’t feel I have the wicked imagination of some of my writing friends, but I enjoy taking real life scenarios and turning them into quirky little stories.


3) Why do I write what I do?

Making people laugh makes me feel good. And having people tell me they can relate to my stories makes me feel even better.  Life is too short to dwell on the negative, so I try to turn every event into an adventure – even the most self-deprecating moments!


4) How does my writing process work?

Process? What process?

Let’s see…. I keep a notebook in every purse, pocket and room in the house so if an idea strikes, I can jot it down before I forget. Because I forget. A LOT. I try to set aside time to write, but with a young family and a very busy schedule, it doesn’t always work. Recently I have taken to getting up extra early (yes, even earlier than my 5-year-old) and that quiet time in the morning is amazingly productive. I thought I would have to be really “awake” to write but actually, being half asleep seems to work better!

My advice to anyone trying to carve out time to write is to JUST. DO. IT. It’s easy to make excuses, easy to let time slip by (as I have many, many times) but in the end, the only way I get anything done is to write it in my schedule and just do it.

Next week a fellow writer and great teacher who will be posting her writing process. Please visit Leslie Jones-Lissack’s hilarious blog about her life as a clown. Yes, that’s clown. If you want to learn more, you’re gonna have to click the link! http://sunnytheclown.wordpress.com/

Why does the first cup of coffee taste the best?

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No matter what the reason, or what time, I drag my behind out of bed in the morning, the first thing I think about, always, is making a cup of coffee. The house could be on fire, kids screaming in the halls, and I’d still be thinking about that first cup of Joe.

In our house, mornings are rather civilized. I’m lucky. My husband works in his home office, most days, and with a home business myself, rarely is anyone scrambling to get out the door at an ungodly hour. The kids are often up early, but no matter, I head straight for the kitchen, pop a pod in the Kurig and hit GO. My day has started.

Coffee cup

Now, I don’t often get to finish my coffee while it’s still hot. The mornings, while not frantic, are still busy. Lunches to make, breakfast to dish out, ponytails to put in and faces to wash. Inevitably, after the first few sips, my coffee sits on the kitchen table and slowly goes cold. By the time I’ve walked the kids to school and come back, my coffee has become an iced latte – and not a good one.

One would think the solution is simple – just make another one. But whether I zap it in the microwave, or make a fresh cup, it never tastes the same. Something just isn’t right. The moment has passed; the opportunity lost.

Oddly, though, on a slow weekend morning, or holiday, I run into the same problem. Not that it goes cold, mind you, but when that first cup is done, the next one tastes, well… meh.

I’ve tried topping mine up half way, to fool the forces out there, and stretch out that heavenly moment that makes the first cup of coffee so special – but it doesn’t work. The first cup of coffee is the first cup of coffee – and it’s damn good. The reasons why remain a mystery.

 

I hate snack shack

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Every Thursday at my children’s school they have a “Snack Shack”, which means that for a buck twenty-five, the kids can buy a frozen yogurt from the snack shack cart.

And every week when we’re half way out the door on our way to school, my son asks “Did you put snack shack money in my bag?”

To which I reply, “No, did you put snack shack money in your bag?”

To which he replies, “Moooooooommmmmm!”

So I run back in the house and dig into my purse, pockets and corners of the couch for a bloody loonie and a quarter in a frantic hurry because if I take too long my daughter will freak out that we’re going to be late for school. She’s nine and could care less about the snack shack, but since I’m hunting for change anyway, she inevitably asks “Can you grab me some money too?”

What is the big deal about the frozen yogurt they get at school? Seriously? If I buy it at the store, they don’t eat it. Is it the funky little container with the lid, and the mini-spoon? Or do they have some sort of mystery flavour I haven’t heard about? I don’t get it.

And I know, I know, putting the money in their bags is their responsibility. I get that. I agree, and we review this every week. But it still makes my life miserable if they/I/we forget because at the end of the day, if that money isn’t in their bags at snack shack time, I’m going to catch some serious shit.

So I find the damn change if I think about it in time, even though it’s such a small thing, and if I miss the window, I pray they will have forgotten by the time school gets out or it will make for a very long and painful evening – for me.

The winter that sucked

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I won’t start with the usual complaints about this winter – as much as we’re sick of the winter, we’re probably just as sick of everyone complaining about it.

The crappy weather stands alone – no one can argue with the unpleasantness of the cold, the ice, the snow, more snow, more cold, more ice, and we’re still well into the minuses even though it’s technically spring.

But there’s also been a tonne of fallout, as a result of our mental condition. I would bet anything the divorce rate has gone up this winter. Depression, for sure. And general bad moods, no question.

Weekly I’m talking at least one friend off the ledge, because just like I am, they are all sick of everything – their weight gain, their hubbies, their kids, their jobs, their lives. It’s a desperate sort of feeling when we’re so far down in the hole from a long and brutal winter, and yet the weather is the one thing we can’t control.

I’ve become so sick of my own bad mood that I’m desperate for something to hang on to – something, anything. And if you’ve gone, or are going, someplace warm, don’t even talk to me.

Am I writing with a solution? Nope. There isn’t one. This one is up to Mother Nature. But know that if you’re suffering, and hating your body, your spouse, your kids, and your life, you’re not alone.

On the bright side, and there just has to be one, it really can’t last much longer. It can’t. Because it’s almost April for Pete’s sake.

So take some extra Vitamin D. Take some extra everything and hang on. Mid-next week promises temperatures that don’t start with a minus, and I can actually see some grass on my lawn, where the glacier has retreated.

Soon the bulbs will be pushing through, the robins will be back, and we’ll all drop our shoulders back down where they belong.

Hang on folks, we’re almost there.

Now that I have all this free time on my hands

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I assumed that when my son started school full-time last September, I would suddenly have all this free time. With a 9-year-old and 5-year-old, you can easily do the math and figure out how long it’s been since I’ve had entire days available for work, housework, or whatever.

So it was natural to assume that time would suddenly slow down and I would have no problem running a business, keeping up with the housework, cooking homemade, healthy meals, working out, and still be able to enjoy the occasional coffee outing with a girlfriend. Because the kids were both at school all day.

I’m not sure how many hours I thought they would be gone for, but instead of being ahead of the game, I am now bringing up the rear, day after day.

Kids only go to school for 6 hours a day, folks. Six hours. That’s it. It probably feels like forever for them, but most days I can barely remember what I’ve done, let alone make headway with my writing business.

By the time I walk back from taking them to school, straighten up the hallway, feed the Guinea Pigs, plan dinner, make the beds, grab some groceries, fold the laundry… I am down to 45 minutes. It’s hard to write an award-winning article in 45 minutes.

I get that it’s all about priorities and scheduling – I need to make Mondays cleaning days, Tuesdays for groceries, Wednesdays for work and so on. I’ve tried that. And failed, miserably. Because inevitably when the day comes to handle a particular task, something else comes up, or I really don’t feel like it. I’m not going to get groceries in a snowstorm just because it’s Tuesday.

So my life has become a series of mini schedules – short snippets of time to juggle tasks that need attention, followed by longer snippets sitting in front of my computer surrounded by a box cut to look like a cubicle, with earplugs in and facing the front window so I can’t see the mess behind me. It sort of works. And until I solve the mystery of how to get everything done in a 6-hour school day, it’s all I’ve got.

We? My ass!

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When my spouse begins a sentence with, “We need to…” it’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Because what he really means is, “You need to…”

“We need to start a workout routine.” (“You need to organize a workout routine for us.”

“We need to figure out a budget.” (“You need to figure out our budget.”

“We need to clean up this messy house.” (“You need to clean up this messy house.”)

To which I want to answer, and often do, “If you want a ‘whatever’, do it yourself.” And then I sound like a horrible wife who’s cranky and miserable.

Now, he’s not a complete ass, he just lacks some sensitivity around his choice of words. He’s a hard worker, very involved dad, hilariously funny, and amazing at coming up with thoughtful gifts for me and the kids. But when those words come out of his mouth, I lose my shit. Every time.

You might suggest that I tell him, calmly, how it makes me feel when he starts a sentence like that.  Smart thought, and I have. Many times. But he stands his ground that when he uses the word “we”, he really means “we”.

I’m not seeing it.

Most of the things he’s referring to are in my domain, which means he’ll throw out this well-intentioned declaration but then leave it to me to look after. Because he gets busy. He gets busy with his high-pressure corporate job which is far more interesting and important then washing the kitchen floors, or tracking our grocery bills.

I apologize to all the men out there with what I’m about to say, but it seems to be a guy thing. I would be shocked if any of you women: moms, marrieds, not marrieds, whoever you are, read this and get a blank look on your face like you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’d be shocked. Because anytime I mention this to another woman, I hear, “Right? I know! What is that?”

I’d much prefer he just say, “The floors are a mess, when’s your cleaning day?” and then I could feel less crazy and more justified when I whack him over the head with the nearest pot.

The only we I want to hear is, “We need to go on a vacation – somewhere really warm with no kids and no work and no small stuff where a gorgeous man will bring strong alcoholic drinks at your beck and call.”

So Honey, never start a sentence with “We need to… unless you’re about to whisk me off someplace tropical.

It all adds up

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I sat down this morning to start this blog, for the third time in a week, and got sidetracked yet again. This time with the laundry. My family is on code-red: No underwear. My 5-year old son decided to go commando to school today and I pretended not to notice.

So before I started writing, I figured I better get the first load in the wash, because it only takes a minute. Mission accomplished, back to the blog. As I stare at the blank page, I remember how I used to write when I felt like it, without a care in the world. I didn’t get behind on the laundry because I just wasn’t that busy. And if an idea struck, I could run with it, at my leisure.

While I contemplate my article, I decide to take a quick look at my email – big mistake. The first one is a notice from Rogers that I’ve exceeded my data usage on my cell phone plan and am about to get charged an exorbitant amount of money. I try to log in to our account and can’t remember which password to use. Every password I try, fails. I only use a couple of sure-thing passwords so I don’t get confused, but they’re all useless. After the third fail I get a nasty message to call my provider – for what? In case someone else is trying to hack into my account to pay my bills? So I call. The lady on the phone tells me I’m not the main account holder.

“That’s my husband,” I say. “But it’s my cell phone I’m calling about. It’s all on one plan.”

“Are you authorized to make decisions on this account?”

“Am I what?”

“Are you…”

“Oh I heard you, are you serious?”

I finally convince this star customer service rep that indeed, yes, I can make decisions on our account. As for my data usage problem –  apparently I shouldn’t have been watching the Olympics on my phone while I was getting my hair done.

Back to the blog. While still mulling over what to write, I notice the date and freeze. Shit, I need to book camping for our summer holidays and registration just opened today.  If I don’t do it now, the good sites will be gone and everyone will be upset. By the time I log in, all the good sites are gone anyway because I wasn’t sitting at the computer at 7am waiting to push that button. Why? Because I was making the kids’ lunches and trying to find my son some underwear. Shit, shit, shit. I’ll have to go back in a few weeks and check for cancellations.

Back to the blog, finally, at 11am… God, I’m hungry. I forgot to eat breakfast, again. I fire up a frozen salmon burger in the grill pan and notice the dishes on the counter from this morning. Didn’t I ask the kids to put their cereal bowls in the dishwasher? Pretty sure I did. I’ll just tidy that up quickly, because it only takes a minute, then I can work while my burger cooks.

As I sit back down, the sound of the buzzer on the washing machine makes me jump right back up and I run down to change the loads, because if the clothes go cold and wrinkle then I’ll have to iron them, and I hate ironing. I fly back upstairs and fold them. There. Done.

Shit, my burger has burned. Great, now what am I going to eat? I unwrap a granola bar, jam it in my mouth and storm back to my desk. What the hell was I doing? Right, paying the cell phone bill… no, I was starting my blog.

Now, before you assume I have ADD, let me assure you that I don’t. And I know this because I’ve already asked my doctor, my therapist and my holistic whateversheis. I don’t have ADD. I have small stuff. That whole “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” mentality is a load of crap in my world (no offense Richard Carlson).

And when my husband comes home tonight and innocently asks “What did you get up to today?” I will fly into a tirade and storm around the house in a huff, totally defeated, because the house looks exactly the same as it did when he left this morning. And when I try to think about “what I did all day”, I will draw a blank.

I sweat the small stuff because my life is the small stuff.