Monday, May 30, 2011

Tales from the Weekend Domestic Goddess

This morning I was performing some responsibilities related to my status as Domestic Goddess.  (I only hold this title on weekends and holidays.)  During the week I am relegated to Slave of the Grind.  The task I was performing this morning was to ensure that the royal subjects had multiple apparel choices.  In other words: laundry. 

I had just counted the number of shirts and pants that had been organized on my bed that required hangers.  The royal subjects had already retrieved their stacks of apparel to place in the appropriate drawers and closets. The Domestic Goddess can only do so much and still retain her title after all.  I walked into the closet (it’s a walk in, so yes, I actually walked in) to gather the hangers for my husband and me.  As I was moving through the different racks of clothes looking for the hidden empty hangers I counted down in my head.  I needed 24 hangers.  During my choosing of hangers, I skipped over the fat plastic hanger and instead chose a typical plastic hanger.  I don’t know how we came to have just one fat plastic hanger, but there it hangs.  Waiting for an article of clothing to cover it.  I felt bad that I hadn’t chosen the fat plastic hanger but didn’t think too hard about it since I was on a mission to complete the laundry.  Once 24 hangers were in my hands I moved back into the bedroom.

My husband’s clothes were quickly hung on the hangers and I took a couple of trips to put the clothes on the right racks in the closet.  I’m a little OCD that way I guess.  However, when I was putting my clothes on the hangers I realized I had miscounted by one.  I brought the clothes into the closet and hung them on their appropriate racks.  I had the shirt without a hanger gathered in the crook of my elbow.  I was so happy that I was able to give the fat plastic hanger a job.  I didn’t want the fat plastic hanger to feel bad.  I am a Domestic Goddess with a good heart.  Or I could just be a strange lady who puts human emotions on inanimate objects.  But doesn’t everyone?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WANTED:  Honest Critique

I recently put a Wanted Ad on the AQC web site for a critique partner.  I offered to critique their work if they would be willing to critique my work.   I was really seeking validation that the story concept I had created had merit and that I had done it justice.  I was very willing to receive any feedback someone was willing to offer.  Just somebody please tell me something!  Give me a clue if I’m on the right track!
Let me tell you, when you give that kind of latitude, you never know what you’re going to get.  You also can’t be upset with what you receive.  So let me just say this:  If you are sensitive about your writing, or you just want to be told its good, then give it to your mom to read.  Don’t give it to someone who actually knows something about writing. 
But if you really want to know what’s right about your work AND what could be improved, find a critique partner.  Be clear about what type of critique you’re looking for so that they can provide it.  If you’re not clear about the feedback you are interested in, you put a lot of pressure on the critique partner to guess. 
I was new to critiquing but I had two people who let me critique their work.  First of all, may I just say what an honor.  It’s so wonderful to be able to read a story that someone else created.  I admit it – I love to read – anything!  So, I felt very excited that I was going to be able to read someone’s raw material.  Material that they had written, rewritten, agonized over, and loved.  I was also very nervous that my ability to critique would not be acceptable or valuable to the writers.  But if you never take a chance and get out there, you can’t learn.  I do tend to have a perfectionist personality and I don’t want to let people down.  That can be a lot of pressure for what seems to be a simple critique.  But it’s not simple.  Not for the person doing the critique or the person receiving the critique.  We all tend to take this seriously. 
Fortunately, I received feedback from them before I had finished marking my suggestions and feedback on their work.  I was able to look at their suggestions/comments/concerns and learn from them the type of information they were looking to receive.  This was my first critiquing experience and it helped to be able to see how it’s done by others who had done it before.
In my research on critiquing, I came across a good article here.  Critiquing is not editing.  The point of critiquing is to assist the writer in improving the manuscript by getting rid of the unnecessary words and pointing out errors or inconsistencies.  I love how this article is careful to recognize that different genres require different language.  When we agree to critique another writer’s work, we need to respect the writer and the genre.  Don’t put your spin on their work.  Identify if there is a flaw in the work, and provide a suggestion or point out the error.  Don’t rewrite it to your specification.  You might not be familiar enough with the genre to do so.  If something sounds awkward, you can comment on it and suggest a change.  Just understand that the writer doesn’t have to make the change. 
Like I wrote before, I’m new to critiquing.  But I really found it to be helpful.  The writers who critiqued my work found real issues and made reasonable suggestions.  The critiques I received will help me make my manuscript better.  And that was exactly what I was looking for.  Based on the feedback I received on my critiques of their work, I provided information that will make their manuscript better too.

What about you?  What do you look for in a critique partner?  Do you look for someone who writes the same genre or a different genre?  Where have you been successful in finding critique partners?    

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award!

I have just received the coveted “Versatile Blogger Award”.  I know, you had just commented to your friends that I was long overdue this award.  I thank you (my eight blog followers)!  And I especially thank the talented A.M. Supinger who writes the excellent blog for bequeathing this award to me.  Sniff 

With the accolades of this award comes my duty to my fans.  I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself.  So many fascinating things, so few numbers that make up 7.  I’ll do my best to astound you.

1.        I met my husband on spring break during college.  Really!
2.       I’ve had two dogs named after alcohol (Stoli and Bacardi).
3.       I wrote a poem my senior year in high school that’s in the yearbook.
4.       I performed (a really bad) rap as my speech to be elected student council VP.  It worked.
5.       I received my orange belt in Tai Kwon Do.
6.       I have found myself reading up to 5 books at a time (they’re in different rooms of the house).
7.       I know my college fight song by heart.
I now have the honor of selecting five wonderful, talented individuals that I’ve recently come across in the blogosphere to receive the “Versatile Blogger Award”.  And the winners are:

Oh, wait, that’s only four!!!  The other blogs that I have learned about have already won this prestigious award.  In fact, as the last blog I am to choose, I choose yours, dear reader.  Please leave a comment and include your blog address so that I can find many more wonderful bloggers in the blogosphere.  Thank you again!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Broken Bones

One hundred years ago, when I was in high school we had to turn in a poem for an assignment.  I remember the poem I wrote for two reasons.  First, I had forgotten to do the homework and was standing at my locker saying “crap!” right before English class began.  As I was standing there wondering what I was going to do, the poem descended on me.  There’s really no other word for it.  It just came to me in its entirety and I quickly wrote it on a piece of paper and hustled off to English class.  The second reason was because my English teacher, Mr._______, didn’t believe that I wrote the poem.  He thought it was good, so it obviously couldn’t have come from a teenager.  Judge for yourself and feel free to comment. 

The loneliness of having friends

seems to draw me more within

this empty shell of broken bones

that I seem to know so well.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Blogging is like an elliptical machine

As you can see from the number of my blog posts, or lack thereof, I’m new at this blogging business.  I began with great momentum and interest.  My friends at AQC shared how easy it was to do.  I had a goal to write clever, witty, and informative discourse.  Build a platform that interests people and showcases my writing talent.  I can do this and be good at it!  However I am finding that life gets in the way.  It was a really busy week: long hours at the day job, different meetings at night for the DH and me, spending time with the kids, and next thing you know, the week is over.  Good intentions don’t turn into blog posts.

Exercising on the elliptical machine is like blogging.  Everyone always promises themselves that they will go to the gym every day or work out 3 times a week.  They are going to lose weight or look great!  Admit it – you’ve all said it!  But life gets in the way.  Intentions don’t become lost weight or bigger muscles.  If they did, we’d all look really great!

The thing about blogging (or writing) and exercising is that in order to see any improvement you actually have to DO it.  You can't just call yourself a writer, you actually have to be a writer.  It requires action and commitment. Your intentions will only cause you to spend money on a gym membership or purchase a laptop.  Intentions don’t bring any rewards.  Intentions don’t actually put words on the paper or hit the power button on the elliptical.  

If we can get beyond our intentions and into practice, we start to see improvement.  Once you get on the machine and you start to sweat you begin to see the changes.  You’re taking control and putting your destiny in your own hands.  It does require more than intention; it requires sweat, dedication, and potentially exposing yourself in a less than flattering light.  But the rewards are huge.  We see change, improvement and confidence.   We make friends that have similar interests and struggles.  We come to realize that our joy is in the journey.

I’ve got good intentions.  I have my laptop for my writing and my elliptical for my workouts.  Now comes the fun part.  It’s commitment time.  Action time.  Set up a schedule for the writing and the exercising.  GO.  DO.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I’m not a coffee drinker personally.  I prefer Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke above all liquid refreshments.  Yes, all.  However, I realized that like coffee, my stories tend to percolate.  Drip, drip, drip, the ideas start to flow.  Initially they are just in my head and more subconscious than conscious.  Over time, I start to feel guilty that I haven’t written anything and begin to doubt my seriousness as a writer.  “Look at everyone else #amwriting on Twitter.  How come they’re writing and you’re just reading Twitter?” But a good cup of coffee takes time to percolate and so does a good story.

Several weeks ago I had asked my family to help me brainstorm ideas for my new story.  My husband and elementary school aged sons gave me the premise for this new story in about 5 minutes.  We just sat around the restaurant table after church and built on each other’s ideas.  It was fun and kept the family entertained while waiting for the food to arrive. 

Last night I decided that it was time to write my outline for the next children’s chapter book on which I’m working.  Twitter got turned off with nary a post by yours truly.  The blank sheet of paper in front of me was just waiting for the perfect words.  I decided that the story had percolated long enough and that I should see what comes out of the spout. 

Ahhhh, now that’s a good cup of coffee!