Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Have I Mentioned How Much I Hate Winter?

You know it’s cold when the radio announcer says, “It’s freaking cold outside” and then goes on to read out the temps, leaving yours for last to prove that point. “And in ______, it’s -29 C, the wind chill making it feel more like -42. Bundle up, folks!”

Gee, ya think?

So out I go, waddling more than walking due to the many layers of clothing, all the while thinking how stupid this is, and that this must be how it would feel to gain fifty pounds overnight. The Jeep’s door groans as I open it, echoing my own groan. The Jeep’s engine groans even more as I start it, sounding too much like some torture victim from the good-ol’ Inquisition days. Let‘s Inquisition the weatherman, I think..

The snow is concrete and the clear patches are glass, and that’s only in the driveway. The roads are a different matter altogether. Here’s a question. Why is there always some jerk who believes they own the road (puddle-jumping, playing bumper tag and being a general pain in the ass) just because they have a 4X4?--a cell phone tucked between chin and ear, a Tim’s coffee in the free hand. I own a 4X4 and I’m not as ass. I know you can’t stop on a dime. I know you can have power out the yin-yang and still insert your front bumper in someone’s tail pipe. I know about the lady who died last year when her car took a nose-dive off the bridge. See, I know these things. But that’s not what I was thinking. What I was thinking was: What I wouldn’t give for a Tim’s coffee right about now. That, and: Hope you’re carrying a good picture so they have something nice to put in your obituary.

But Tim’s is not on my route and it’s way too cold to change it, even for a hot Tim’s coffee. Oddly enough, I can almost see myself walking into Tim’s and ordering a coffee, then pouring it down the front of myself to warm up. Ah, but I’ve been through worse - the month before moving here comes immediately to mind. April, it had been - the time of “The Big Snow” - when everything shut down for three days and I was out of cigarettes. But that’s another (ugly) story. In this one, I make it to work, get growled at (again) for being two minutes late (again) and make my way to the coffee machine. Wouldn’t you know it - we’re out of coffee. Well, not coffee, per se, just filters...which works out to being the same thing. Which means I should have stopped at Tim’s.

Have I mentioned how much I hate winter?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Is There Really Such A Thing As Writer’s Block?

That question came up in a friend’s blog (The Fiction Scribe, whose link can be found under My Reads). Rather than answering there, I decided to answer it here because, well, I tend to get a little long-winded.

Yes, Virginia...I mean, Jaime...there is a writer’s block. And I should know. I suffered from it for seven months. Trust me when I say it had nothing whatsoever to do with being lazy or uninspired, nor was it some a lame excuse not to write. I wanted to write. I needed to write. For some, myself included, writing is not the key to the future. It‘s me. Hmm. Maybe I’d better clarify that a little. Writing is a large part of who I am. Sometimes the only part. Certainly the best part, since I’m one of those oddballs for whom writing is akin to breathing.

So if it’s not laziness or some lame excuse, you think, then what is it? And more, is it catching?

I’m happy to report that one can’t catch it. It’s not the flu, you know. Unfortunately, most (if not all) writers will suffer from it at some point, which is why I caution those who have never experienced it to be careful when throwing around terms like “lazy” or “lame” lest others say the same about them when the affliction incapacitates. And yes, it does incapacitate. After all, what is a writer who can’t write?

I joked when it happened to me, saying, “My muse is vacationing in Tibet.” But (and trust me on this one) it was no joke. Now keep in mind that pervious to that I had worked very hard to find my voice and my style, literally tossing everything I‘d known out and starting over from scratch, which, I might add, also included my old pen name. And before you ask, no---it wasn’t for some lack of success or because I had lost the fascination. It was a way to keep the writing fresh and interesting, really---a huge experiment that could have easily blown up in my face. Of course, it did.

Call it lazy. Call it uninspired. Call it an overworked and underappreciated muse with a really bad attitude. Whatever you call it, just know that yes, there really is such a thing as writer’s block. Don’t believe me? Then I’ll call you a lucky not to have experienced it so far. Ah, but you will. Eventually.

Speaking of all that, I ran across an old and previously deleted post the other day called "The Country of Limbo." Since it goes with the whole writer’s block theme (and because tripping down memory lane can be so much fun), I thought I’d share it pretty much as it had been written back then, mainly because I’m too busy today to do more than copy/paste. Just to say, it was part of the earlier set of former posts written by yours truly when Hawke’s View was still young and I was a shade angry and feeling the need to vent (for lack of a better description). So anyway, just for kicks, here is:

The Country of Limbo

This is my eleventh entry to Hawke’s View---a name which has come to mean (in my mind, at least) a place to put a few scatterbrain musing written under my pen name. My first entry wasn’t very good; to me it barely made sense. But that’s not surprising. When it was started, Hawke’s View (me, in other words) wasn’t in what I’d call a good place; I was, in fact, in limbo. Hawke’s View was never created as a short-term band-aid; it was supposed to be my safe place, and when my muse had packed his bags and headed for parts unknown, I was surprised, hurt, and very frustrated. Limbo was not a country I’d ever visited before, nor was it in any way favorable to good writing. This time I may do a bit better.

Probably the most important thing I can say about Hawke’s View is that it became my good place---my controllable other world. Not entirely, of course; I don’t mean that it’s actually another world. Except...well...maybe it is. Another world is, after all, where writers try to take their readers, at least while they are reading, and writers are not immune from seeking...what should I call it? How does “conducive Nirvana” sound?

Anyway, Hawke’s View began its life not as another world but as a place to deal with certain aspects of my life. Then it began to change and become a catalyst in my attempt to depart the muse-less country of Limbo---my bad place, as everyone has. I began to see it as a sounding board of sorts, then an apple crate, and finally as a place to put a few of my early works which I hoped readers might like. But would it work? Would it be the key to breaking out of Limbo?

Someone once said that to blog was “cathartic.” In much the same way, my blog began to be cathartic. After all (and not after a short while, I might add), it did work. Now that it has---now that my muse is back and The Quill is up and running---it seems I’m faced with an even bigger question: How much is safe to share?

Good question. And I’ll answer by saying that (just like the feeling one gets when they’ve stayed a bit too long at a friend or family member’s home over the holidays) you’ll know. When those around you ask for more than you‘re capable of giving, trust me, you’ll know all too well. Unfortunately, that will most likely bring me full-circle---right back to the country of Limbo.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Even Though I'm Early, It's Still Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

...shopaholics dragging overly tired kids around malls in search of that most holy grail - the latest in "must haves" for the perfect commercialized Christmas. Oh what fun!

Ah, but Christmas is what you make it, isn't it? And sure it is. If you don't buy into the hype that bigger (and more expensive) is better, then you really can have a wonderful Christmas. Just remember the real meaning behind Christmas, and that it isn't the material things that mean the most, but the simple joys that do. After all, can you honestly say you remember every present you've ever received? I can't. But I do remember the little things. The mouth-watering smells of holiday baking. The hot chocolate. The bright colors. The beauty of the lights. The music. The laughter. The jokes, pranks, and dancing in the kitchen with my two sisters. The fear that Santa might see us if we happened to get up in the middle of the night. Or worse, the fear he'd miss our house altogether. I mean, my sisters and I were a handful.

So here's to Christmas. May it be filled with simple pleasures that make wonderful and lasting memories.

And an old favorite...

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