Goal Setting for the Planning Impaired.

Okay, I’m back. We’ve been having computer issues, and the ongoing attempt to fix them has included lots and lots of huge update downloads and turning the reins over to distant techies. Oof. Here’s hoping the problems get solved soon.

At any rate, I have the chance to blog now, so I’m taking it! Carpe diem, people.

I’ve been discussing goal setting with my resident poet lately. As in, really lately. As in, today. I’m horrible at goal setting. It always seems completely arbitrary to me. Like, “I wanna get published before I turn thirty.” What the actual heck. There is no possible way of guaranteeing that. Unless you self publish, but oh lawrdy that idea does not appeal to me. If you’re cool with it, then more power to ya. Not for this girl.

Anyways, that was a rabbit track.

Goal setting. Now, it may come easily to you, and if so, congratulations, this post is clearly not something you need to read, because I’m going back to the super basics. The ABCs, in fact. That’s because I am a complete infant in the ways of reasonable goal setting. In fact, this is literally me:

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Okay, so that’s not literally me. But it’s literally me. You know what I’m saying. Moving on.

The resident poet gave me the three things that a good goal has to be:

  • It must be measurable. Because otherwise it’s not even a goal. Duh. Even I understand that.
  • It must not depend on anyone but you. So “I wanna get published” isn’t a good goal, because somebody else has to decide to publish you. Decide that you’re going to submit to three journals per month, instead. Or whatever.
  • It must go beyond what you have already achieved. Awwwww, so you mean I can’t just set a goal to do something I already know is possible? Shucks.

Because in the end, goals are about progress. You have to stretch yourself in order to make progress; you must be able to measure your progress, or else how do you know when to celebrate or ramp up the pressure; and your progress can’t be dependent on other people.

So yeah. Super basic, and probably really rambling and clear as mud. But this is a blog about my process of becoming a writer, and sometimes it’s not tidy. It’s not tidy in my own mind yet, but I wanted to get it down somewhere to help lock it all in my mind.

Welp, that’s what I’ve got for you today.

TTFN.

 

Spaghetti Bolognese and Other Things which Require Stewing.

So if you’ve taken a gander at my Twitter feed recently, you will have noticed that I’m a klutz. I grabbed the handle of a pan that had just been taken out of a 350 degree oven. Hey, that pan usually just sits on top of the stove, okay? The handle isn’t usually hot.

Besides, I was writing. Maybe that should be the theme of today’s post… never try to write while simultaneously making dinner.

But I digress…

Anyways, what I set out to write about was how weirdly parallel cooking fancy noodles and writing stories can be. So here goes.

I don’t know if anybody else out there has noticed, but a certain slice of the internet has been losing its composure over Spaghetti Bolognese… Whether or not celery should be added, how much butter equals a “generous knob,” and WHY ON EARTH WOULD IT EVER BE EATEN WITHOUT SPAGHETTI???

At any rate, I had gotten a package of ground beef out of the freezer early in the day, with absolutely no plans, because that chef thing is not my thing. Usually I’m the brown-the-beef-and-dump-some-tomato-sauce-over-it-and-call-it-good type. But gosh, that just sounded so boring. And here was the internet being all hilarious and everything, so I figured, meh, why not throw my hat into the ring?

I interpreted the recipe as best I could, and let me tell you… Best Bolognese Ever. Possibly I’m biased, because it’s the only proper Bolognese I’ve ever tried. That’s beside the point, however. The thing that really made the difference was shoving it into the oven and letting it sit for a while. If any of you cook, you’ll know what a difference that makes, but it was kind of revelatory for me. Basically, everything mixes together and comes out tasting marvelous.

Okay, this isn’t actually turning into a food blog, I promise. I’m getting to the point now, which is that writing can be the same way. We’d all like to be those people who can sit down at a desk (or curl up in a cozy chair, or get in bed, or stretch out on the floor…) and pluck stories out of thin air. Maybe some of us are like that. Lucky dogs. I’m sure not. Yesterday, I was supposed to plan out the first draft of a short story for my writing class. I sat down at the computer like a good little writer, and… absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Typical.

So I spent some time on social media, because any writer will tell you that’s what most of their time is spent doing, and therefore it must be a good inspiration boost, right? Absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Finally, I went to YouTube and watched makeup tutorials, because at this point why the heck shouldn’t I? It’s not like I was getting anything done. Yes, I was having an attitude. Yes, watching makeup tutorials is what I do when I’m having an attitude.

So, long story short, at about 12:30 AM, when, okay, I should not have still been awake, my brain came knocking on my forehead like, “Hey, here’s a couple of ideas! Would not a pair of these have bred? Yes, being kept together and put to use.”*

About an hour later, I had my storyline. Along with a random snip of conversation for some other day, and several ideas for blog posts. Including this dandy of a thought:

Writing is like Bolognese: sometimes it just needs to stew for a bit.

 


*Geez Louise, I thought I was going to make it through a whole blog post without any Shakespeare references. I’m incorrigible. It’s from Twelfth Night, in case you were wondering. And they’re talking about coins.

Even if One’s Partner is Barely Tolerable.

There isn’t enough dancing on this blog. I’ve just noticed that. No blog of mine is complete without plenty of dancing. So I’m about to remedy that situation.

Quite possibly my favorite Fred and Ginger routine. Although that’s saying a mouthful. They’re just having so much fun. I love listening to them giggle.

And then there’s this:

My brother and I used to make ourselves obnoxious by zooming around the house shout/singing this when we were about five and six-ish. We didn’t know what “erroneously” meant, but who even cares?

Here’s this, too:

Find me a dancer who doesn’t have a bit of a crush on Misha. Go ahead. Try.

The video quality is horrendous, but the dance quality is top-notch.

If We Faint Not.

Inspiration has been at a low ebb lately. The last month or so has been full of troubling issues with my extended family, which have been making my life more about “keepin’ on keepin’ on” than bounding along the mountaintops.

Not that it has been all bad, of course. There is still plenty of loveliness in the world. Today, for example, I got to spend a couple of hours playing tug-of-war with a puppy, and the most troubling issue I need to deal with is figuring out how to cook corned beef for my dad’s birthday (Holy cow, I just did the math and it turns out this is his 60th!!!) dinner tonight. There seem to be about a thousand different methods.

But anyway, that is all just rabbit-tracking. Turns out, you can find inspiration even for those times where all you can do is keep your head down and plod:

“And many strokes, though with a little axe,
Hew down and fells the hardest-timber’d oak.”

-Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part III

And then there’s this:

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

-Galatians 6:9, KJV

So that’s what I’m doing. This pairing of quotes, by the way, is courtesy of The Bard and The Bible, a magnificent daily devotional by Bob Hostetler that I highly recommend. I’ll probably end up doing a review of it at some point, once I’ve gotten at least halfway through. There’s a blog to go with it, and I love it to death.

Second Annual Christmas Post.

It sounds strange to call something “annual” when you’ve only done it once before.

I’m banking on it becoming a legitimately annual thing, however, so it works.

But I digress from the festive point. Last year, I was feeling distinctly Scrooge-ish. This year, I’m pleased to report, I’ve been feeling much more Cratchitty. So in the spirit of celebrating the holiday, here are a few of the things I’ve been enjoying lately:

In the first place, we had our annual Young Life White Elephant Gift Exchange last night.

Meet Didien Razzmatazz, everyone.

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Honestly, this picture does not do him justice. He’s like three feet tall (ish. I haven’t actually measured him), and he can slow dance.

Beat that, fellas.

Next, @thiscitylifeldn on Instagram has been posting pictures of Christmassy London:

I’m firmly convinced that London does Christmas far better than any American city. Jealous.

So that takes care of the parties and the visuals. Now there is only one thing left: The music.

This song goes out to all you unhappy people who have last-minute gift shopping to finish.

 

Merry Christmas, everybody!

 

 

Sorry.

Okay, some of you might have noticed that I didn’t post a blog on Tuesday, and I never even tweeted to let you know. I’m assuming your faces looked something like this:

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Or maybe you didn’t even notice. Which is fine. Absolutely fine. It’s not like my feelings are irreparably hurt or anything.

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But anyway, this is just a quick update to tell you that I have been up to my ears helping my live-in poet / brother complete his giant teacher’s certification test, and therefore I don’t have time to post anything thought-provoking today, either.

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Yes. I am serious. “But someday, when the world is ready for a new and better life… all this will someday come to pass… In God’s good time…”

As in, I’ll be back on Tuesday as usual.

Bonus game: If anybody can tell me where that last quote came from, you can pick a topic for a forthcoming blog post. Any topic. Completely up to you. Just comment down below, or tweet me, or shout through a megaphone, or whatever your preferred method of communication may be.

How (Not) To Impress A Girl.

Here’s some inspiration for you… this was going on in my back yard about fifteen minutes ago:

Just out of the frame, in the direction these two dudes are both looking at the end, is a pretty young doe, who is paying absolutely no attention to their bro-ish antics.

This is not how it’s done, fellas. So sorry.

 

Isn’t it amazing how often animals mirror human behavior? How often have we all seen young men buffeting each other around and flexing their biceps, sneaking little glances at the girls to see how they’re taking it, only to redouble their efforts when they see that it’s having no effect.

How about taking another tack, boys? Trying something different for a change? No?

Okay then. Have fun doing your thing.

Inspiration? During NaNo?

You’re kidding, right? You expect me to be inspired/inspiring during the month of November? And to talk about it in an intelligible and enthusiastic manner?

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You guys, I’ve been staring at this screen with unfocused eyes for far too long, listening to Bon Iver because that’s about as much as I can handle.

Go out and find your own dang inspiration.

But in other news, I’m getting close to the 15,000 words mark.

How are You Feeding Your Soul?

 

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Two weeks ago, I talked about the importance of taking a careful look at your writing, and making sure it says exactly what you want it to say. And if it says something different, that you might want to take a look at your worldview.

There’s another thing that might be effecting the message of your writing: The stuff that’s going into your mind, heart, and soul. As human beings who, for whatever reason, feel a need to communicate with the world, we need to be conscious of what we are consuming. Are we taking in wisdom, truth, beauty, inspiration? Things that allow our souls to breathe and flourish? Or are we allowing ourselves to be filled with mindless, shallow, petty, disturbing, or even vile things?

It makes a difference, people. My ballet instructor has a phrase that seems particularly apt to my point today: “Garbage in, garbage out.” Granted, she uses the phrase when she is reminding her dancers of the importance of good nutrition, but I think it applies equally well to our mental and spiritual nutrition. Just as eating junk will be reflected in lethargy, sluggishness, bad skin, and excess fat, a diet of mental junk (gossip, slander, violence, cheap “humor,” lewdness, American politics) will be reflected in what comes out of us through our words and actions.

So if you’re uncomfortable with some of what has been coming out of you lately, if you feel like you have better things inside you than what has been showing up, ask yourself this question: How are you feeding your soul? Do you need a mental diet adjustment? It might be as simple as adding or deleting something from your Twitter feed, or it may require a complete overhaul. But you’ll feel better for it, I promise. And I bet your writing will improve, too.

Also, good golly, doesn’t that salad up there look good? Somebody make me one.

World Ballet Day.

Today I would normally be posting Adam Young’s film score of the month, but that will have to wait until next week, because something very important is taking place as I type.

It’s World Ballet Day, people. Five leading companies from around the world are live-streaming all day. And you can watch it here. Classes, rehearsals, behind the scenes… glory.

I told you it was important.

Unfortunately, I have a dentist appointment and errands to run today, so I won’t be able to binge it the way I would like, so y’all will have to do it for me.

Go get some culture, people.