Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

A Quote for Thursday from Anne Lamont


Day 7, Grateful for our Vet

I am grateful for our vet for seeing Quinn on an emergency basis and treating him so successfully!

This post was started yesterday but the Little Splat, Quinn, has turned my life upside down, something he considers his purpose in life.


Poor Quinn after the vet and not feeling great

One aspect of having four Siberians that is not immediately apparent is their ability to poison themselves. When you find the remains of something they’ve grabbed, found or stolen, you’ll have no idea who did it. So, you begin watching them carefully, for signs of any distress. This is compounded by the fact that if the naughty one vomits, the others eat it and may have lesser symptoms. 

Then there is the mystery of what was eaten? Did they catch a poisoned mouse? or that possum they killed and stored until they tired of playing with it? Did one step in a puddle in a parking lot or etc. etc. etc. All four dogs were not hungry on Saturday, not unusual they do this at times. On Sunday only Quinn and his mother were still off their food but Lulu was drinking broth, Quinn was drinking but not as much. Monday everyone but Quinn was okay. 

To an unfamiliar eye, Quinn appeared well-behaved and calm but to us, this was serious! Quinn is a singleton, meaning he didn’t get the normal socializing skills from his nine siblings like most huskies. He received extra training and we tried to be his siblings but he is a singleton and a bit of a handful. He also grew up with his mother and chose to obey her over us. As Quinn’s step mom, Lulu and I had different goals. 

So, on Monday Quinn was vomiting and not interested in food only sips of water. I agonized, thinking the others got better but this all changed when I saw blood clots in his vomit! My dear husband rushed home and whisked Quinn off the vet who agreed to see him immediately. Thank you, dear vet and the clinic staff! Quinn was feeling better on Tuesday when I started writing this post but his medications, coupled with mine occupied a lot of my time! Quinn rested until the afternoon when he slowly picked up steam.

Maybe Mayberry this Year!

The Quantum Leap I took Writing my Book

In 1996, I had an idea for a book. It came from 2 stories I heard growing up. Both featured a woman who killed herself by self-immolation. Both were in NH, one in the 1940’s and one was in 1960’s. One was told by my maternal Grandfather and one by my father. My father embraced the story-telling tradition of his northern native and french ancestors, he was not above embellishing -even to the detriment of a good true story. My Grandfather was an honorable man with strict ideas of right and wrong, his word was generally trusted. So, one story might be my father competing with my Grandfather, except the people were well-known and it would be easy to check. I have not been able to find any hint of either story online or in newspapers.

But, the stories stuck with me and one day after a typical bizarre Mayberry encounter while delivering meals on wheels, I idly wondered what if two random, good women suddenly killed themselves by self immolation in contemporary Mayberry? So, I sat down and wrote it. I even added in another death by fire but this one was an obvious murder, which revealed the others to be murders.

Halfway through the books I decided to write a series since there was too much going on in my fictional Mayberry to work in one book. So, I wrote in an odd collection of superfluous characters and took the first of many steps I took to murder my book!

The next steps were to buy a bunch of very good books on writing and editing. It wasn’t these books, it was mainly me, I began editing without knowing what I was doing. I killed the baby, my book! But, I wouldn’t admit it and went on to try to revive it for a few years. Two years ago, I buried it and started a new book, a paranormal in Boston. This time when I realized it too could be a series, I started adding new characters and the book got sick. Before killing it, I put it into a self-induced coma and reviewed my process. About this time, I discovered Scrivener. So, now an idea for a new book with new characters goes into a New Project File. If any of this has a legitimate use, if a character works for the current book, I’ll add him, if not he’s in the future books file.

So, after a year of RWA contests and lessons, I feel like I am finally on track. Still screwing up? Oh, yeah, but recouping fast. Back to Mayberry with cold war sleeper agents and spies. I spent 4 months writing this book and that means I can spend another 5 months on it. I am also finding I can use parts of the dead book, it’s almost like they were written for it.

So, I can now see a bright light at the end of the tunnel and I am carefully approaching it with deliberate intent.

Igniting the writing

A few inspiring words from Gwen Hernandez on NaNoWriMo

Gwen Hernandez

LitMatchMy writing brain is on fire! In a good way.

It’s because of NaNoWriMo. One of the things I like best about participating is that it reminds me of a few key points that I seem to forget over the course of the year.

For example, when I’m stuck on a current or future plot point, I tend to quit writing and brainstorm until I figure it out. This sometimes means days or even weeks of not writing. During NaNo, however, I have to keep going or I’ll never meet my goal.

And a funny thing happens.

The more I write, the more ideas I have, and the easier they come.

This month the plot bunnies have been multiplying like, well, bunnies in my mind. I’ve been waking up with new visions for my storyline, thinking of story concepts while walking the dog, and solving character dilemmas while driving in…

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Flu season on target this year!

I usually get the flu in the spring or in early September. Never in November. Ever. I have NaNoWriMo and I never leave the house so no chance of meeting contagious people. But, last week I went to the local hospital for a mammogram. I hit every hand sanitizing center I passed.

When we moved to this area in 2003, the local paper had an amusing headline. The local hospital was graded the worst in the state for “Staff Infections” I found this ominous and hysterically funny. Since, it supposed to be Staph not staff infections but ironically it is caused by the staff not washing their hands… Don’t believe me? John Hopkins did an eye-opening study that was promptly ignored.

Anyway, I woke up unable to focus my eyes, they were so tired and weak! Then a head ache grew in my forehead… then the delicious tuna sandwich I had for lunch started doing aerobics in my gut a few hours later. I know these signs, they suck! This is either an ubiquitous 24 hour bug or I am coming down with the flu.

I can not take flu vaccines, so that you very much all you jerks out there who don’t get a flu shot! I am allergic to egg serums, now they have a type of nasal spray not made with eggs but not for people over 50…wtf?

So, I head to bed. The husband is trying to fake being sympathetic… he got a flu shot! And now he can play computer games until the cows come home… just saying that is a bad sign… brain sick!

lator gators!

A Week into NaNoWriMo and Still Smiling

Friends neglected, blogs ignored and emails piling up -it must be November. Almost a week into NaNoWriMo, I can see a big difference in this year over the previous years. I am enjoying the hell out of this month. The words came like butter on a hot muffin today.

I haven’t been able to get my butt in the chair for major editing on the spy book but I am taking a break this afternoon to blow leaves off the driveway and see if I can’t come back to edit in an hour or so.

So close, so near, so dear.

I just finished a complicated scene. We all  have things we do badly, that others seem to do with ease. My husband can maneuver the length of our very long driveway effortlessly in reverse. I can’t.

What’s worse, one wrong step and I can drive over the edge into a stream, over a cliff or worse back into the pond. Thanks to recent repairs to the pond, I know for a fact, it’s ten feet deep. If I go very slowly and carefully drive in reverse the 200 plus feet to the road, I might be able to do this in under an hour without drowning but I might still hit a tree.

Being the evil person I am, I force my heroine to not only drive a longer, narrower driveway in reverse but with a horse trailer hitched to her truck and a sexy guy in the passenger seat. It doesn’t take long for him to figure her out. It takes her hitting the fence followed by kissing and witty banter.

So, all is good, eh? No, my total word count is 8,921… 79 words short of 9,000.  Can I really stop now? Can I delay the rush of passing 9K for another day? After all, I’ll be half asleep and won’t even feel the rush!

Okay, off to write another 100 words!