Give Me Energy or Give me Death

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someecards.comI’ve grown tired of searching for ways to stay awake, which has led me to debate whether or not to try energy drinks. Not for the flavor factor as I’ve been told they taste medicinal like Dimetapp. I’m interested in the promise of long-lasting energy. 5-hour energy holds a lot of appeal because of the name. Considering most days I have about 1 hour of energy (three on a good day) an extra five would be great. I’m hoping it’s like the Mucinex of energy drinks: powerful and fast acting. My coworker brought some to work today. She warned me to be careful drinking them. From what I’ve heard, energy drinks are addicting and can make your heart explode.

My lack of energy outweighed my concerns for an atrial eruption. Besides, I’ve never been one to pass down freebies. I drank half a bottle to see if it could keep me awake while I worked. I figure if it keeps me awake at work, it can keep me awake to write. Coffee and soda just aren’t doing it. My coworker doesn’t know how I can drink three cups of coffee and a soda and still drop dead of exhaustion. To be honest, my problem has always been staying awake, not falling asleep. I’m always tired. Thyroid issues and irregular heart beats run in the family, so I thought that could be it. Three appointments and a week of being hooked up to a heart monitor later, I was told I have a fast heart rate, but no thyroid or heart issue that can be blamed for my tiredness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be healthy, but I can’t figure out why I’m tired. So I just have to figure out how to stay awake.

Which brings me to energy drinks. So I drank one and I’m not noticing any difference. Mountain dew you can feel in your veins. This didn’t do much. I did the shaky hand test, but I can still hold pens and write legibly. My legs aren’t even twitchy; in fact my whole body is perfectly content to sit still, if not more still than usual. I’ve been more jittery in my sleep. I will give it credit for one thing, it tasted more like coolaid than medicine. I was just really hoping it would wake me up so I’d have something to jump start myself before writing.

I’ll try a couple more brands before giving up and hopefully I’ll meet my expectations of typing furiously into the late/early hours.

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Tuning it Out

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imagesCAN7BZYYIt’s difficult enough writing to Pandora with all those commercials interrupting my thoughts without my five-year old constantly going “mommy, mommy, mommy.” People ask me how I can write with a young child in the house. Same way I deal with any other noise. These days noise is constant, permeating even. Cell phones bleep, people babble, cars hum on the streets, televisions blare, and those inconsiderate little birds every morning with their peep peep. And don’t get me started if you live with someone who hums or whistles. This is one of my sister’s pet peeves, not mine. I’m guilty of being a habitual whistler and singer.

To be honest, I just got used to writing with noise. I hear the collective gasp of all of you who require aboslute silence (actually I can’t hear the gasp over my kid playing ninja and my cat knocking a toy under the fridge). I think it helps that I never developed the habit of writing in silence. It wasn’t a personal choice, I just wasn’t ever given a moment of silence.  When I started writing in high school, I always wrote to music. Though the noise was selected, it was still noise, and I used it to drown out more obtrusive noises, like my brother’s bad music, people talking in other rooms, and televisions. I grew up with three siblings and a mom who liked to watch the Lifetime channel and who was also experimenting with surround sound; there was no way I was ever going to have silence unless I smashed every radio and tv in the house and bound and gagged my family in the basement.

Now when I say I can write to noise, I mean the noise that isn’t directed at me such as Rylee playing pretend or watching a movie. I can’t however work when the noise is directed at me like when he ask me for snacks, to watch tv, drinks and other questions that require a response. Easy solution. Before I sit down to write, I give him a snack and drink and let him choose a movie (not a television show that will end in fifteen minutes). I tell him that I will be writing and if he needs anything he needs to ask now or wait until his movie is over. A simple timeframe helps kids resist interrupting because they know when it’s ok to see you again.

Sound cancelling is the key, especially when it comes to those annoying and loud tv shows. By now I have a system. It goes like this. I do laundry while I write so the washer and dryer cancel out his shows. I then play pandora to drown out the washer and dryer. In the end, all I hear is music.

I know a lot of people say they can’t write unless it’s perfectly quiet. I have to have some noise. On the rare occasion that my house is dead silent, I end up putting on a movie or music just to kill the silence. I also have a sound machine that plays white noise or forest sounds, though sometimes this puts me to sleep. By selecting the sounds I hear, I use noise as a positive stimulus to help me write.

So how do you like to write. Do you think noise is a positive stimulus or a hindrance?

A Guide to World Building

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photo by deborahtereramischristian.com

photo by deborahtereramischristian.com

You can’t open a fantasy novel without a map, language guide, and historical record. I think Tolkien has a lot to do with this. He set the standard for world building very high. For those who are not familiar, world building is essentially planning the setting for your novel (the when and where). While I enjoyed creating the fantasy world for my series, to be honest, I have two or more races and have not invented any languages, all the important historical events that shaped the world will be mentioned in the book instead of outlined in an appendex, and I have a map I use as a guide when I write that I will probably not include in my book. Does this make me lazy? I don’t think so. I just think readers want a story, not a history lesson. So I’ve chosen to keep it simple.

Creating a world can be exciting and at the same time daunting. I was on Youtube the other day, when I should have been working, and found this wonderful video by Kate Messner where she brillantly summarizes the process. It’s fun to watch and very educational. I think she does a great job breaking it down into simple steps. Please enjoy and if you have some advice on world building or anything you want to share about creating your own worlds, please leave them in comments.

The Write Escape

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courtesy of picstopin.com

courtesy of picstopin.com

How does one stay sane in spite of the inherent madness of reality: by escaping it, of course. Some people watch tv or play video games, but I choose to write. Why write? Because sometimes I feel that you have to combat madness with a greater madness, and writing in its own way is a form of insanity: a compulsive, obsessive habit that people commit to with all the feverish fervor of someone who alphabetizes the items in their kitchen cabinets.

In an ideal world, we would embrace our reality, but there are many obstacles in the way of happiness: bills, work, obligations, medical issues, family problems. In order to get away, we don’t always have the money or time or PTO to go on a vacation and fly to the place farthest from where our troubles originate.

Growing up, I found that the best place to escape from reality was inside my mind. I could daydream for hours. Going inside my mind was like going on a journey. I travelled so far down a thought path when I was in first grade that I missed an entire math lesson. These days they would diagnose me with some form of attention deficit disorder.

My sister was the same way. We’d go into our own worlds, and sometimes we’d put them together. Playing pretend was our favorite past time. We invented characters of our own or imagined we were our favorite Disney or tv show characters. I’m not ashamed to admit that (probably due to my height advantage) I was often assigned to be the male characters.

Between the ages of five to ten the only thing we had to escape was boredom. We grew up in a small town where the most memorable feature was an old railroad track. We seldom went anywhere or did anything because my father was cheap and didn’t care about enriching his children’s lives. Lucky for us, we were innately imaginative and we enriched our own lives. We spent over a thousand days of our childhood in our backyard, but we weren’t in our backyard; we were on a pirate ship sailing to a new world in search of gold. The grass under our feet was the ocean; the summer breezes became the salty sea air; the pine trees planted on our neighbors yard as a wind block and property marker became a dense forest; the garage became a cave; the rock that marked our driveway, a mountain; the puddle in the driveway, a lake. In our minds we were legendary heroes going on epic adventures, to our neighbors we probably looked like halfwits.

As years went by, I began to need an escape from more than boredom: bullies and puberty were making it difficult to exist in reality. I didn’t like school, other people my age, half of my family. I didn’t even like my own body. My pretend days were over, but I discovered reading and spent all of the hours at my disposal absorbed in a book. I felt like I was behind a wall where people’s insults couldn’t reach me and it didn’t matter what I looked like or what I said. I didn’t exist.

In highschool, I got to revisit my pretending days on the theatre stage, playing characters like Ida the maid and the Grand Duchess Olga Katrina. I also discovered writing. Not only could I enjoy reading and playing out the stories and worlds made by others, I could make characters and worlds of my own.

As a full-fledged adult, I find it more challenging to find fullfilling and acceptable escapes: and I have more to run from than ever: the cold, my job, family obligations, car issues. I won’t escape the world in my car, that hasn’t started in three days due to the cold. But I can escape inside my mind. When I write, my real world doesn’t exist, but the one I’m creating does. To be honest, I prefer imaginary worlds to real ones, wether they are my own creations or ones other people have made.

8 Hours to Write

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untitledRecently I read a post from the blog Live to Write – Write to Live that asked this question: “If you were given eight hours to write, what would you do?”

Today I have the opportunity to find out because I have been given every school-aged child’s wet dream: a snowday!

I guess even adults get these from time to time, as long as your job is not essential and your city is in a state of emergency.

To all of you braving the storm, I will be sitting at my computer with a hot mug of coffee and a toasted bagel. This doesn’t differ from my work routine very much, except I will be wearing comfortable clothes and I will be writing instead of working.

So what will I do with the eight hours I was initially scheduled to work? Why write of course. Aside from writing this blog, I am working on book one of my series. My goal is to write three chapters. If my sister is utilizing her snow day, I will edit a chapter of her book. If I get really ambitious, I may take a break from writing fiction and write an article for textbroker.

Does anyone else have a grown up snow day today? How will you be using yours?