Author Archives: anndeecanndee

About anndeecanndee

I write books. Sometimes. Mostly I just throw up words.

Spring Break

 

Lately, I’ve been feeling like someone took the iron, got it good and hot, and ironed me out.

 

This kind of metaphor, what do you think it means? I’m feeling good or I’m feeling bad? I’m a better, starcher person with all my wrinkles ironed out or I’ve been flattened and burned and might not be able to get up again?

Sometimes things pop into my head, images, ideas, scenarios and I realize to me they make sense, I know the emotion that is tied to them but readers might not.

For example, sometimes I want to lay underneath a semi truck. Not really. But sort of. Then I realize, if I write that down, will people think I mean I want to be hit by semi truck? Because I don’t. At all. I think being under a semi truck would be warm and inconspicuous and you could eavesdrop and in real life it would not be good at all but in fake life, I think it would be nice and cozy? See? I’m weird. I’ve lost you. Because that’s not normal, wanting to lay under a semi truck.

We have to think carefully about the metaphors and images we use. Are they clear? Do they need too much explanation? (though that’s not always bad–sometimes that can show a character and make her/him different). The pictures we paint with our words have power. You just want to make sure you’re taking your reader in the direction you want them to go.

And so, lately I’ve been feeling I’ve been ironed out. Flattened. You guess what that means.

 

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Hope

Today you should write about hope.  It’s raining outside and our backyard is full of yard toys and shoes and sleds and cups and chairs and bags and cardboard. I told my boys this morning that when a neighbor came to visit and saw our backyard, she started to barf all over the place.

Really? my oldest asked.

All over.

Where?

She was barfing here, over there, in the couch, on the piano, it was really sad.

They stared at me.

I stared at them.

Before they left for school, they went out and picked up a skateboard and a boot. It felt like a victory.

Write about the small victories that come from messes. That come from rain. That come from death. That come from trashy yards. That come from manipulating your children with vomit.

Every story deserves some hope.

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Yogurtland

I just got a text that if I spend ten dollars on yogurt and toppings I will get a free cooler bag.

Would that tempt you?

Today my baby pooped in the tub. I’ve written about my horror and fear of this phenomenon before. However, today  I embraced the poop (not literally). I cleaned it up. And then I cleaned the tub. And the walls. And the floors. And the sink. And the toilet and every single thing I could see in that bathroom. This happened last week when she pooped and the week before and the week before (She really relaxes in the tub). And so now it’s safe to say that though I don’t want her to do it and I certainly discourage it, I have come to appreciate her pooping as a means to get my chores done.

Is this like getting a free cooler bag if I buy yogurt? Not really. But it is nice when doing one thing that maybe you don’t want to do leads to doing something else that you need to do but have been putting off (again, this has nothing to do with the yogurt because I want yogurt and I don’t need a cooler bag nor have I been putting off getting one and this makes me feel like why am I even talking about that text and why do I get texts from Yogurtland? How do I get them to stop without making them feel bad? They won’t feel bad because they don’t care so do I just text back, no thanks for the texts? Or stop texting me? Or UNSUBSCRIBE? I have really big problems).

So writing. What things make you write even if you don’t want to and then you’re so happy because you finally did it?

Deadlines?

Blog posts?

Writing groups?

Invitations to write a family history for a reunion?

Guilt trips at church?

Writing partners?

I’ve come to realize that in my middle age and my middle kids and middle-I-feel-too-exhausted, a little poop or pressure or help does me some motivation good.

 

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I’m a really good cleaner person.

When I pick up I tend to put things in my pockets. Legos. Coins. Socks. Lint balls.

I also put things on my head. Barrettes. Elastics. Hats. Headphones.

And on my body. Sweatshirts. Towels (around the neck). Belts. Sunglasses.

And sometimes I put things in my mouth. Skittles. Half a pancake. An orange slice (healthy). Bread.

Cam might walk in the room and it will be clean at that point. So very clean.

He’ll look at me and say: Wow.

And I’ll say: Thank you. Yes. I deserve a medal.

And he’ll say: You know you just put the entire room on your person.

And I’ll say: Look around. Have you ever seen this place so spotless.

And he’ll say: What are you going to do now? It’s time for church.

I’ve been thinking about this habit and how maybe I do the same thing with my writing (when I treat it like a gift (or maybe a battle?) and actually do it). When I revise, clean up a manuscript so to speak, I collect a lot of things. Beautiful scenes that have to go. Pages of research that end up not mattering. Entire plot lines that lead to nowhere. It can be painful to cut and carry all these things. Or at the very least, heavy (a lot of sweatshirts and coats lying around these days).

But the beauty of it is that those things aren’t thrown away. They aren’t for nothing. No no no. Instead they go on my body. They go in my pockets. On my head.  And even into my mouth.

I have found that weeks or months or even years later in some cases, those scenes, those hours of research, those unused plot lines have inspired or reappeared or helped me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. When I thought, I don’t know how to solve this writing problem, or I don’t know how to write this scene or I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m going to quit, I’ve been able to reach into my pocket and pull out something that is exactly right.

The moral: Embrace revising. Embrace cutting. Embrace making your manuscript better even if it’s painful. Embrace “time wasted” for the good of the book. And put all those bits and pieces and hours and sweat on your person. You’ll find their place later.

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A few weeks ago my niece who is also my virtual trainer and one of my best friends, she texted me and asked if I had done the workout I was supposed to do for the day.

I laughed.

I hadn’t done the workout for the day in about two weeks.

I texted back: Wearing the same clothes from last Tuesday. Not exercising. Not eating kale. Just stepped on a banana.

A few days later, a box arrived in the mail.

It was a small stair stepper. The kind you can keep under your bed. The kind from infomercials. The kind that would make all my dreams come true.

I was thrilled.

Here are the reasons:

a. it was new.

b. it looked so easy.

c. I could do it in my bedroom where no one could see me.

d. it meant I was going to become fit and get dressed regularly and start eating kale.

Um.

Guess what happened?

I kept waiting for a chunk of time to do it. I kept looking for my sports bra and my dumb yoga pants. I kept waiting for the kids to be occupied. I kept waiting for the perfect time and the perfect atmosphere and the perfect feeling in my heart and soul to begin my journey to physical fitness.

Today I took the stepper out of the box. Finally.

I also got on the stepper. In my nightgown and underwear and barefeet and no bra (don’t picture it–please) and for ten interrupted (but I did squats during the interruptions) minutes, I did the stair stepper.

And, I felt amazing. I looked awful. My hair kept getting in my mouth. I didn’t have a protein drink hand and it wasn’t for sixty minutes. But amazing.

I still feel amazing. Ten minutes! It’s a start.

I sometimes do this with a new project. Or even an old project. One that I love. One that has so many shiny prospects. It’s going to be so easy! It’s going to be the novel of my dreams!  I would write and it would flow out of my  fingers and I wouldn’t stop until it was done. 2000 words a day just like Mr. Stephen King!!!!! But first I need time to write. I need a place to write. I need to feel like writing. I need everyone to LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!

But then . . .

Two weeks later.

Three weeks later.

And a new piece of workout equipment or novel idea looks so much better, so much more promising

I’m going to try ten minutes a day on my new stair stepper.

I’m also going to try ten minutes a day on my book that this killing me and that I’m a champion at avoiding. Ten minutes! Ten interrupted minutes even! Without wearing a bra!

I think I may be the only person with this problem. Oh well.

 

 

 

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Post Christmas Pudding

My dear friends,

Today as my kids were fighting and my baby crying and my dishes piling, I wondered if it might be a good idea for world leaders like Putin and Obama and Isis and Kim and all of them to take three weeks and watch five kids (or more or less even) full time.

All day long.

Change poopy diapers of kids who hate getting their diaper changed so they twist and scream and try their hardest to run away half wiped.

Mitigate fights over of legos and lego handbooks and lego instructions and legos being thrown all over the room and lego sets being destroyed and GET SAMMY OUT OF HERE HE’S BREAKING IT!

Have piles and piles of laundry that never get done and sometimes they get folded but they don’t get put away and then the dirty get mixed in with the clean and then there’s no distinction between the two so it’s start over time.

Spend time reading stories and chapters and novels.

Lose socks and mittens and favorite minecraft figures and hair clips and coats and the flour (???) and  jeans and keys and phones and the youngest child and homework and wedding rings and the book you were reading and an entire bag of potatoes.

Have people sit on your face at three in the morning.

Go sledding in the backyard.

Have other people brush your hair while you try to help someone else do a puzzle while the baby is throwing oatmeal.

Listen to one child say Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Over and over and over again with no regard for any answer you give them. Yes? What? How can I help you? Doesn’t matter.

Have a birthday party with ten boys where they make paper airplanes and run around the house and scream and you say things like, let’s keep it down. Be careful of the stairs. Don’t break your face!

Go to the bathroom with one or more kid standing next to you talking to you, asking what you’re doing, trying to climb on your lap, etc.

Lay in bed in the morning with five people wrestling and laughing and kicking your stomach and yelling and wanting cereal and pancakes and bacon and milk.

Feel a general ache in your bones because you love your children and you want them to be happy and work hard and learn and eat healthy food and get a lot of fresh air and become responsible adults and kind people who aren’t jerks but you also know it might not matter so much what you do or maybe it does matter but you’re tired and you’re kind of a jerk too so good luck to them.

Feel another less general ache. One that is centered right above your heart where your creative center beats and you want more than anything to be able to write. To read. To think. To take more than ten minutes at a time to spread your thoughts out. To let them marinate and connect. To write without it having to amount to anything because you have the luxury of time. Time to let the crap out and the good out and time to figure out which is which. Which ideas should rise to the top and which are just stepping stones to getting there.

Do you think it would change them? Would they be different? Would there be less wars? More wars? More compassion? Less compassion? Would they curl up in beds? Take the kids to museums, Bjorns and all? Get the bathrooms clean using environmentally safe cleaners and dinner made with grass fed beef all while cutting health care? What would it be like?

Someone is crying now that’s it for me.

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Violent Video Games are Bad

The semester is almost over and I’m starting to finally feel like maybe I can breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I decided to teach freshman English this year and it was harder than I expected.

But also better than I expected.

Here is a list of the research topics they chose:

Music

Violent Video Games

Pro-Eating Disorder websites.

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) syndrome associated with Facebook etc.

Body Image

Anonymity vs. Security

New Media in Elections

Parent/Child relationships online

Truth vs. Untruths spread by social media

Women and Pornography

Pornography and the brain

Hashtag Activism

Race and Social Media

Sports and Social Media

And more. While these papers were long and long and long (I required them to be long) and I had to grade them (my least favorite thing in the whole wide world), they were also interesting. Fascinating in some cases. And gave me lots of writing ideas.

Question for the writers: Do you ever consider writing non-fiction? If so, what kind of non-fiction? What about a novel for adults? How would your brain have to shift to do that kind of writing? Why did you decide to write the things you write?

Question for readers: What do you read and why? Do you ever read outside your preferred genre? Why? When? Have you ever gone a historical fiction binge? A self-help binge? A graphic novel binge? When? Why?

I love how life can inform my profession. The good. The bad. The sad. The happy. All of it can make me a richer writer.

xoxox hastagloveandcandy

 

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