Cliffs And Insanity.

“When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind”

–C.S. Lewis

Quick post from my phone today. I’m running around doing errands like a grown-up lady.
I’ve been thinking about this quote frequently. It’s a good one, not only from a spiritual or general living perspective, but also from a writer’s viewpoint. Having characters who refuse to go with the flow for whatever reason always leads to good conflict. Why aren’t they following the crowd? Are their motives for going their own way good or evil, wise or foolish?

Business (Not) As Usual.

Two things, people:

  1. There is a change in the wind. I’m finding that blogging three times a week is getting to be a bit too much for me, as life is heating back up as the weather cools. Therefore, I will be switching my schedule to blogging on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tuesday will be my day for sharing some kind of inspiration, just as Mondays have been, and Thursdays will be a continuation of both Wednesday and Friday’s themes. I will be sharing either something about my learning curve / writing process, OR an excerpt of my writing, if I feel like it is worth sharing. Sound good? I figure it’s better to downsize a little and stay consistent, rather than letting it get patchy and perhaps giving up all together.
  2. Okay, I must confess that part of my decision is based on the fact that once again, I have nothing to share. Some weeks just aren’t good. But as a word of encouragement to all the writers out there who probably know exactly what I’m talking about, these bad weeks are NOT business as usual. They are passing issues. Life goes on, and nothing lasts forever.

While I’m in the vein of honesty, I’ll say that the reason I haven’t been writing consistently (apart from being super busy prepping for my Young Life area’s 10th year anniversary celebration banquet) is because there has been a lot of plain old ugliness in the periphery of my life, and it keeps wanting to pour out like vomit as soon as I uncap my pen. Now, I certainly believe that there is a place for pain and, yes, even ugliness in writing, but (as I shared here on Monday) I don’t like it for its own sake. I personally don’t want to share any writing about ugliness unless there is a flip side that shows a reason, or offers some kind of redemption, and as of yet, I haven’t seen any in the situations I’ve been writing about.

Well, that’s really all I have to say…

Oh, hang on! That’s a really dark and depressing note to end on. I hasten to add, for the benefit of my friends who I know go creepering around on this blog (Love you, Lizzie!), that none of the ugliness directly pertains to me. I’m actually doing absolutely fine. Life’s good. It’s just that some situations that I’m indirectly involved in are messy, and it’s intruding on my spirit.

So anyways. See you on Tuesday, folks!

Learning From Haruki Murakami.

“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m.

I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.

But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”

– Haruki Murakami

It feels slightly hypocritical for me to write about this author, as I must admit that I’ve never read any of his books. I’ve heard of him, certainly, who hasn’t? But now that I’ve studied him a bit, I will definitely be checking out his work.

I found quite a few of his quotations to be inspiring and thought provoking, as many of them are based on two things I’m close to: Writing and running. Now, I’m not a runner. Oh no. Not even close. But my brother is a top-level runner (and now a coach) who was state and nationally ranked all through high school and college, so I know the sport to the ground. So, for instance, when he says things like, “Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life – and for me, for writing as well.” it really resonates with me, as I’ve seen runners push themselves to their individual limits over and over again through the years.

The thing I think I will take away from this writer is a sense of the massive importance of discipline. He didn’t begin writing until the age of twenty-nine, but his Wikipedia bibliography goes on for miles. He didn’t begin running until he was thirty-three, but now he became a serious marathon runner and triathlete. You don’t attain those levels without serious discipline.

Mad respect, dude.

This post is the third in a series based on this article by James Clear, featuring quotes and reflections on the routines of twelve famous authors.

Enough Unpleasant Things.


“Why shouldn’t art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world.”

– Pierre-Auguste Renoir

I absolutely adore this quote. Why shouldn’t art (of all forms) be pretty, indeed? When did culture shift to the stance where everything has to be “edgy,” or somehow coarse and brutal?

Particularly in writing. I go to the bookstore, and so much of what is on the shelves is all about pain, horror, or just plain ugliness. Why?

I get that you can’t write stories without conflict, and I get that there is a lot of ugliness in the world. But do we really have to bathe in it? I recently flipped through several books by a writer who is extremely popular at the moment, just to see what all the buzz was about. For the rest of the day, my perceptions felt poisoned. I couldn’t look at people without imagining some sort of twisted, frightening secret buried underneath their innocuous exteriors.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to feel like that every day. I prefer to celebrate beauty, even if it is beauty that shines through pain.

Oh, Hey.

Oh, golly. Rebecca, say it isn’t so. It can’t be Friday already, can it?

Oh, yes. It actually can.

Guys, I have nothing for you today.

I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

Life has been hectic, and I haven’t been feeling well.

Do all these gifs show my contrition adequately?

Well, anyway, have a nice day. Here, I’ll leave you with something to cheer you up.

Learning From E. B. White.

Photo of E.B. White.

E.B. White and his dog, Minnie.

“I never listen to music when I’m working. I haven’t that kind of attentiveness, and I wouldn’t like it at all. On the other hand, I’m able to work fairly well among ordinary distractions. My house has a living room that is at the core of everything that goes on: it is a passageway to the cellar, to the kitchen, to the closet where the phone lives. There’s a lot of traffic. But it’s a bright, cheerful room, and I often use it as a room to write in, despite the carnival that is going on all around me.

In consequence, the members of my household never pay the slightest attention to my being a writing man — they make all the noise and fuss they want to. If I get sick of it, I have places I can go. A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

Ah, good old Elwyn Brooks. Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Elements of Style. I’ve read two out of that noble three, but I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to guess which one has been neglected.

According to James Thurber, during White’s time at The New Yorker he would sneak out the fire escape in order to avoid visitors he didn’t know. I can certainly identify with that. We would have gotten along, Elwyn. Or rather, we wouldn’t have gotten along… we probably would never have met, since we both would have run for the nearest escape route at the prospect of being faced with new people. But I think he just might have been a kindred spirit.

Interestingly, we are exact opposites when it comes to distraction tolerance. I often work with headphones on, using lyric-free music, or songs that are so familiar as to become white noise, to drown out the everyday traffic sounds of a house with three other adults in it. I simply cannot write with other people rampaging around (read: going about their legitimate business at reasonable decibel levels), even in the relative privacy of my bedroom.

Ah, but that’s where the learning comes in. The underlinable, tweetable part of the quote: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” Basically, saying there are conditions I “simply cannot” write under is simply another excuse.

Suck it up and pull yourself together, Elisabeth Anne.

This post is the second in a series based on this article by James Clear, featuring quotes and reflections on the routines of twelve famous authors.

Writers & Actors: Different Aspects of the Same Profession.

“I’m attracted to the extreme light and the extreme dark. I’m interested in the human condition and what makes people tick. I’m interested in the things people try to hide.”

— Johnny Depp

One of my favorite passtimes is watching actor interviews in which they discuss their roles and how they approach them. This puzzled me for a long time, as I wouldn’t call myself a celebrity chaser by any means. But now I think I finally have my fascination figured out:

Acting is just another layer of storytelling. A writer’s job is to cook up a story and figure out how to make it work; an actor’s job is to take a written character and translate them for a visual medium, bringing out motivations and nuances of personality. That’s why I find them so interesting. As our jobs are really two different aspects of the same profession, I find so much of how they approach their work to be relatable and inspiring.

Johnny Depp is a people watcher. He says that when he reads a script, he gets visual flashes of people he has known, or things he has encountered, and he develops the character out of those flashes. Many of my characters come through seeing flashes of expression, or hearing words come out of their mouths which are odd remixes of things and people I have encountered somewhere in my life.

Tom Hiddleston says he approaches each job like a well, circling around it and tossing things in which help him to get a handle on a character, before jumping in and papering the walls with the things he threw down. I tend to circle my stories in much the same way; throwing research, atmosphere, motivation, dialogue, and even art and music into the mix, then jumping down into the middle of it all and pulling out the useful bits to paper the walls of the world I create.

Do you have any so-called “frivolous passtimes” that actually inspire you? I’d love to hear about them! Feel free to comment, or write your own blog post about it and tag me somewhere.

Silent Dialogue.

A while ago, I decided to try writing an entire conversation without one quotation mark. Then I left the country and promptly forgot about it. Well, I remembered it early this week, and here’s what I came up with. It’s not technically a conversation, I guess, but I think it has some interesting undercurrents.

coffee mug

The woman picks up her mug from the windowsill and stares at the ring of pale coffee left behind until her eyes unfocus and slide past it to the tree outside. She doesn’t show any sign of awareness when the man comes into the room. 

He stands behind her for a moment, then cups her elbows with his hands and leans over her shoulder. She turns her face away, so he presses his lips into her collarbone. The stand like this for a long time, until she shuts her eyes and sways backward. Her motion is barely perceptible, but he pulls her into him and kisses her cheek before leaving the room. The woman sets her mug down again, aligning the bottom in the exact center of the coffee ring. 

The front door opens and closes softly. A minute later the car hums away down the street. The woman wraps her arms around her body and folds forward until her forehead is pressed against the glass, her lips stretched tight over her teeth. The surface of the coffee shimmers as tears fall into it.

There you have it. As usual, I’ve presented this little piece of writing to you in all it’s unedited glory, because after it gets edited, it might turn into something better. But I for one think it’s kind of fun to read rough work. It’s a bit like getting to watch Picasso making sketches, or Baryshnikov in the rehearsal studio. Know what I’m saying?

A Plan.

Buckle up, I’m about to share a random anecdote about my personal life:

So in about a month and a half, I will be doing this…

Oh, yes. Plus, I have a VIP Pass, which means, among other things, that I will be meeting Adam Young. Mmhmm. Yes I will. And therefore, I’m highly motivated to get in shape, because who doesn’t want to look good when they meet a celeb? Besides, I want the photo to be Facebook-ready so I can brag unapologetically and obnoxiously. So I’ve been walking for about 20 minutes every day, as well as doing 45-60 minutes of Pilates. After that, I always fall asleep. Unintentionally and spontaneously. It’s like workout narcolepsy.

Today after I woke up (with an imprint of my macrame bracelet in my cheek and hands that felt like marshmallows from having my head resting on them for so long), I shut my eyes and groaned, because I suddenly remembered that it is Wednesday, and I had no idea what to blog about. So I did what I always do when I’m desperate.

I whined to my brother.

He suggested that I research the writing process of a writer that I admire, and blog about my findings. Well, that sounded like a plan, so I decided to run with it. I Googled the incredibly intelligent-sounding and coherent phrase, “famous authors writing process” and lo and behold, the first link I clicked on led me to a fantastic article by James Clear, a person I need to research because honestly I have no idea who he is. The article is called “The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Writers (And How They Can Help You Succeed).” Yep, that’s a link to the article. You should totally click on it.

I think in the upcoming weeks, I’m going to study the authors he includes, and my Wednesday posts will be based on the quotes he includes, as well as anything else I think is worth sharing. For today, I’ll just take his list of suggestions for applying the themes to your life, and see how I measure up:

1. Pushing yourself physically prepares you to work hard mentally.

Well, true. This is a hard one for me, as I would much rather sit and use my brain all day. I just find physical exercise so boring, apart from Pilates and dancing, that it is the thing I most commonly let slide. I’m motivated externally now, however, and I’m learning to enjoy the benefits, if not the process. Now I just need to learn how to stay awake.

2. Do the most important thing first.

Ugh, prioritizing. Not one of my strong points, usually. I’m not a morning person naturally, so I prefer to ease into my days. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for other things (and people) to intrude, and often the truly important things get pushed aside. Not a great way to live. For me, writing will always have to come second to studying the Bible and spending time with Jesus (unless I wake up with a wildly good idea that I have to get down, in which case I’m sure He would understand, because He’s cool like that). But after that, I need to sit down and write. No Shakespeare until you’ve done your own work, girl. I don’t care how amazing Beatrice is.

3. Embrace the struggle and do hard work.

Madre de Dios. Oy, vey. Not “good” work. “Hard” work.


A Genius In Slapshoes.

Buster Keaton

“You can’t be a genius in slapshoes and a flat hat.”
Pardon me, Buster, but I beg to differ.

Today’s post is terribly late. Sorry, people. I’ve been busy all day getting my new shop on Society6 set up. You should totally go check it out.

There isn’t much there yet, but I quite like it anyway.

Okay, now that I have that bit of shameless self-promotion out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Serious business.

We’re going to be talking about one of my biggest crushes inspirations of all time, the incomparable Buster Keaton.

Actually, we’re not really going to talk about him. I’m just going to show him to you. As he put it, “Silence is golden. Only monkeys chatter.”

Yes, I made this video. I’m rather proud of it.

Buster deserves a much longer post. In fact, I can happily chatter on and on for hours about this amazing little man, given half an opportunity. But it’s late and I’m tired, so that’s all for now, folks!