Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Summer of my discontent

This was an odd summer, one of challenges and charms. Pros: finally had that long awaited "Gathering of the Band Geeks", a reunion of the old gang from the high school marching band. [note: everyone says "let's get together" but until one brave soul actually picks a date and cracks the whip, it ain't gonna happen]. Cons: zero job offers coupled with my unemployment getting cut off which had led to serious financial difficulties. A big shout out to Ben Nelson (D: Nebraska) for blocking the vote to extend benefits! Yeah, I wrote him a letter but... I digress.

A couple of other unusual things came to light over this summer that bear review, or at least a "hmmmm".

1) No more breakouts
I was not a particularly pimply faced teen myself, but did suffer from adult acne. My throat and neck were the most plagued areas. But now? Nary a nasty bump. I do get the occasional wannabe zit around that time of the month but a quick zap with some Oxy 10 knocks them out before they get a chance to rear their ugly white heads.

2) No sniffles
No one in our little foursome had so much as a head cold this summer. The kids stayed home, rather than going to summer camp this year and unlike last year, when Little JT got the Swine Flu, everyone has enjoyed good health. I hope their immune systems are ready to handle being back in the germ lab, er, classroom.

3) Less chance of skin cancer?
I, though quite fair skinned, am not a big sunscreen user. Unless I am going to the beach or the pool or Universal Studios, I just don't think of it. As a result, I had what appeared to be a permanent sunburn on my chest in the shape of the v-neck tops I tend to favor. It was really red and kind of heinous. This year I have been more diligent about putting sunscreen on my blotchy chest and neck and, lo and behold! The burn has faded! I am still more freckled in this area than say, the underside of my chin, but everything is pretty even toned now. Looks way less like I need a trip to the dermatologist. Or oncologist.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A daily dose

Go to the bookstore or search online and you will find mounds of books, blogs, newsletters, websites, etc. offering advice on writing. One tidbit that bobs to the surface again and again is: write every day. An hour, a page; many experts recommend making writing as much a part of your everyday life as brushing your teeth.

The September issue of Writer's Digest magazine touches on this topic in several ways. While "The Big 10" issue is filled with Top 10 lists on a variety of subjects, let's focus on the topic of daily writing:

From "Top 10 Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know" (Kirby Larson): "Debunk the myth that a writer should write only when she is moved or inspired. A piece of writing is created by sitting down each day and writing. You really can create on demand once you've decided not to be taken hostage by that part of your brain that's demanding you update your Facebook page, fold laundry, or answer an e-mail as it comes in."

From "Top 10 Essentials to a Writer's Life" (Erik Larson): "I set aside a minimum of three hours every morning, seven days a week, during which no one is allowed to disturb me except to report an incoming cruise missile."

From "Top 10 Things Every Writer Should Do" (Mary Higgins Clark): "Carve out a specific time to write virtually every day. 'When I get to it' means failure."

From "10 Experts Take on the Writer's Rule Book": John Dufresne agrees. "Writing is work. And you have to go to work every day. It's not a choice. If you don't punch in, you lose your job." Jason Scott Bell takes a different tack. "I used to do a daily count, but a little thing called life would interfere and I'd miss a day. Then I switched to a weekly quota and have used it ever since."

Writing every day (or close to it) is something that you'll have to train yourself to do. You may have to give up some other time wasting vice (no more LOL Cats!?) or at least cut down. Make yourself a space, even if it's just the corner table at the local coffee shop, and pet pen to paper, perhaps literally. Writing longhand is a surefire way to remove the distraction of updating your Twitter. Then you can do your second draft in Word.

Ya know, I think I may have to print this out and tape it up on the bathroom mirror, the fridge, the TV remote... because, yeah, I need that daily flick in the forehead too.