Monday, June 16, 2014

With a Purpose

In the past, when I wanted an area to work on a project, I've piled stuff out of the way, promising myself I'll do something with it later. And generally 'later' is several years in the future because life happens and I never get back to the dump.

About five years ago...maybe four...I dismantled my drafting table and put away my calligraphy stuff when my family circumstances changed. Now, there's really no place for the table and I'm determined NOT to create another dump in the quest to figure out a place.

And so? Well, the alternative is to actually CLEAN and SORT and THROW OUT stuff purposefully. To that end, each day I go through a box or basket or stack of papers and toss out. It's a slow process. Some things need to be shredded. Some can simply go in the round file. Others need to be filed or placed in notebooks or set aside to pass on via Goodwill.

I'll confess something. I absolutely hate this kind of cleaning. There are people who LOVE organizing and making things tidy and all that other crap. That's not me. I can organize specific things like art supplies or craft supplies or notes for a book. But that other stuff? Nope. Really not my thing.

I don't care if the piles of this or that totally take over the universe. The only thing that compels me to clean is peer pressure. You know. SOMEBODY might come in the apartment and goodness knows we wouldn't want them to think we live like pigs.


So I pick up and stash things in odd, out of the way spots so the main impression is neatness. And heaven help me if I ever need to find something specific.

Now, if I want to get back to my calligraphy, I must clean with purpose. Blech. Determination is everything, right?


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lowest Common Denominator

After two or three days of spotty Internet service, it took me a while to scroll through posts on Facebook, Yahoo, and a few of the other sites I check out. When you take a writing sabbatical, you have time for other stuff. Lot's of stuff. So maybe, I read more than I would otherwise.

Mostly, it ended with a bad taste on my tongue.

In the last twenty years or so, we've slowly but surely oozed into the dumpster of the lowest common denominator. It is possible that is one of the reasons I'm not very motivated to write. Why write when there's no challenge?

I read poorly written posts with multiple spelling errors--posts that mostly posed banal questions, loosely related to writing. Over the past year, the subjects have slithered from mildly interesting to not even close. Perhaps...I've just reached the point of saturation.

Or possibly, I'll searching for some meat in my rock soup. In the rush for popularity and sales, we've all jumped on the wagon of mediocrity. Publishers were the initial wave, imposing their 'thou shalt nots', but even though we have the freedom of self-pubbing, we're still adhering to the same rules.

Has anyone stopped to consider why? One author posted a short piece about HEAs and the absolute rules for romances. Does that rule matter if you're self-pubbing? Or is that supposed to be part of the definition of romance? At one time, forced seduction was the norm. Yet, we've mostly moved past that, seeking other story forms. Who says we have to have an HEA?

Actually, the most respected and beloved books over the past hundred years are those written by authors who dared to be different--dared to write stories that posed questions without answers.

Perhaps we should aim for the top instead of grubbing down in the mud pit. What if we used vocabulary above third grade level? Suppose we didn't tie everything up in neat little packages, but left something for the reader to consider and decide. What if we challenged our readers to think? What if?