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Tag: 2012 A to Z Challenge

P is for Procrastination #atozchallenge

Day 16 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: procrastination.

Building on yesterday’s “O is for Overload” post, I fully admit that a big chunk of my overload is due to the fact that I procrastinate.   A lot.  I have these big goals to get everything done (“Not only will I get all my data turned in, I’ll push it into a spreadsheet and make pretty charts,” “I’ll have that novel done in three weeks,” “It’s Thanksgiving – I can get three blankets crocheted in time for Christmas”), but something else always comes up.  A book to read.  A different short story to write.  Talking to another teacher for an hour instead of just a few minutes. It’s always something.

So I’ve come up with ways to mitigate my procrastination.  For starters, I’m a night owl, so I’m fine staying up most of the night to get something finished.  I also know my limitations, and I’ve stopped setting so many big hairy audacious goals.  If I don’t finish something, I don’t really stress much – because I’m a quick thinker who can usually come up with an equally workable plan B.

Are you a procrastinator?  How do you deal with it?

O is for Overload #atozchallenge

Day 15 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: overload.

(Note:  I think this might be cheating.)

There are about five weeks left in the school year, and my students are having those “Holy crapola, I’m failing my classes and I’m going to need summer school” moments.  Which means they’re in my classroom all day.  Not that I mind – I’m tutoring kids right now in economics and contemporary American history and welding – but that leaves me about 10 minutes all day to myself.  Throw in paperwork for my program and grading papers, and preparing for a huge culminating competition for the kids next week, and a field trip I’m chaperoning next Tuesday, and tracking down skipping kids, and talking to teachers about missing work, and fixing schedules for next year, and I’m easily putting in 10-12 hour days.

And then there’s my family; I don’t work on school stuff while my kid is around and awake.

And writing.  I’ve set myself the goal of sending out queries in a couple days, so after I’ve done all my school stuff (or enough of it), I spend a couple hours editing my novel.

But not tonight.  Tonight I’m going to bed before midnight.  Undone stuff be damned.

M is for Musical Memories #atozchallenge

Day 13 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: musical memories.

Before I left last month on my 12-state spring break road trip, I filled up my iPod with 8 GB-ish of music to listen to as I wandered the countryside. And as each song came over the stereo, it evoked specific memories: old boyfriends, vacations, periods in my life, even exact patches of roads where I’d listened to the songs before.

Almost every single song had at least one memory tied to it.  And each memory stirred up certain emotions. Give me a song, a lyric, a tune, and I can give you a story to go along with it.  Conversely, give me a name, a place, an emotion, and I can give you a song to go along with it.

Someday, maybe, hopefully, I’ll be able to get a fraction of those stories out of my head and out into the world.

L is for Left-brained #atozchallenge

Day 12 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: left-brained.

Despite my creativity, I’m solidly left-brained. I love symmetry, to the point of rearranging my eggs in the carton so that the sides are even.  Give me differential equations and I’m a happy camper.  Throw birds at pigs?  No thanks, I’ll stick with sudoku.

Language is no exception.  I love the patterns among languages, from Romance languages sharing common roots, to the rules for verb conjugation.  I use Latin and Greek roots as vocab words in my classroom, hoping to pass pattern awareness on to my students.

As a result of my search for patterns, I often see themes in things I read and write that might not be intended. But I don’t think this is bad; it takes my appreciation and understanding to a deeper level.

Are you right-brained or left-brained?  How does that manifest itself when you read or write?

K is for Kill Your Darlings (figuratively, of course) #atozchallenge

Day 11 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: Kill your darlings.

The general consensus in writing seems to be, “Kill your darlings.”  It’s meant as being able to chop out big parts of the story that aren’t working, even though you may love the prose.

I’m a bit more literal than that.

I’ve had nine flash fiction stories published, and in four of them, someone dies.  In one, “Bardo Bureaucracy,” everyone obviously is dead. In the novel I’m shining right now, a major character dies.  In the novel I’m still writing, three characters die in the first section.

And it’s rarely a bad guy who’s offed (although I don’t really have bad guys; I try to nuance my characters so that everyone is both good and bad).

Macabre, depressing, or maybe just downright sadistic – call me what you will, but the deaths fit the stories.  They’re not pointless; they help the other characters grow.

If you write, do you frequently kill off characters?  If you read, how do you feel about authors killing off major characters?

J is for Jello #atozchallenge

Day 10 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: Jello.

I’m sorry.  Really, I am.  But I’ve spent the last half hour trying to think of J topics to blog about today, and only two things show up: jerks (did you know that Backpfeifengesicht is German for “a face that needs to be punched”?) and Jello.

I’m not actually a big Jello fan – it’s too sugary – and Jello has nothing to do with writing, but I’m tired.  I had a nine-hour day today, accepted another project

(Me to boss: I’m super overwhelmed right now
Boss: Would you like to take on a mentoring PBL [project-based learning] project?
Me: Sure! [pause] Damn, why did I say yes?
Boss:  Ha ha, too late. [last two sentences not actually said])

and I still have to prepare for the sub who’ll be in my class tomorrow as I take a gaggle of kids to an all-day carpentry/welding career fair.

So you get Jello.

But really, sometimes it’s those non sequiturs that make life – and writing – so enjoyable.  I’m sure you’ve had this happen to you:  You’re all set to write a story.  You know the characters, the plot, the last line.  You’ve written a decent chunk when suddenly something random happens. You go with it, and before you know it you have a great yet completely unexpected story.

All because of Jello.

I is for Inspiration #atozchallenge

Day 9 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: inspiration.

I get inspiration everywhere. 

Driving through dilapidated Cairo, Illinois, and eerily empty southeastern Missouri a few weeks ago inspired my short story “Of Gods and Floods.”  A friend’s reference to “a chicken over gators” inspired the short story I’m currently trying to write.

Chef Gordon Ramsey’s constant use of risotto on Hell’s Kitchen inspired me to learn how to cook it myself (and I’m glad I did; it’s damn tasty).

Listening to Algebra Blessett inspires me to do differential equations (yeah, I’m weird like that).

And today, as I brainstormed with a student on how he could get new shoes (he’s homeless and his are falling apart), he told me that what I do for my students is “inspiring.”

What inspires you?

H is for Historical Fiction #atozchallenge

Day 8 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: historical fiction.

When I was in college I spent a semester studying in France.  One of my classes was the History of France.  I surprised the prof by not only knowing who Vercingétorix was (he led a rebellion against the Romans), but also the role that le gui du chêne (mistletoe from an oak tree) played for the Druids of Gaul.  How did I know all that?  Easy.  I’d read Druids by Morgan Llywelyn.

In my high school American History class, I answered questions about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic before we’d covered them in class.  That was because of the Sunfire series of romance novels, each about a teenage girl living in a different period of American history.

I love history, and while I enjoy biographies and other nonfiction books, I like it best when the stories come alive for me through the average person’s experiences –  the whole showing instead of telling experience, I guess you could call it.

As a kid, there were a lot of books that taught me something while I read: James A. Michener taught me about the exploration of Alaska and the settlement of Hawaii, among other things.  I learned all about the people of the Old Testament through Peter Danielson’s Children of the Lion series, given to me by my grandma as she pared down her books.

The list goes on and on, of course, and it continues to this past week, when apparently I was on a WWII Europe kick as I read

  • 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson – a Polish couple who’ve reunited in Britain try to rebuild their marriage after their experiences during the war.
  • The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore – a Russian doctor is arrested by the MGB (precursor to the KGB) in post-WWII Leningrad.
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – a YA story about a Lithuanian girl whose family is deported to a Siberian work camp on the eve of WWII.

Do you enjoy historical fiction?  Is there a certain time period you like best, or are you like me and eager to read whatever you find?

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