Wednesday, November 03, 2010

NaBloPoMo Blog Post #3 - Oh, How I WISH I could Dance With Dragons!

I've been waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish "A Dance With Dragons" for nearly two years. I started reading his "Song of Ice and Fire" series in the summer of 2009 (one should only read these books in the summer, or on a long vacation if you're not a teacher or student who has down time in the summer, because you will NOT be able to do anything else until you've read every single one of them). I was between books, and a friend from Montana who loves Sci-Fi / Fantasy as much as I do told me about them. I got them from the public library, and could not put them down. I read straight through all four of the books that had been published to date, and after all of that serious investment and commitment was left in a cliff-hanger!  How cruel.

So I went to George's website to see if there were any clues about when "A Dance With Dragons," the next installment, would be completed. Oh, joy! He said it would probably be out in October. No problem--I'm impatient, but if I can get urban high school teenagers to sit for 90 minutes in my classes, then I could certainly hold it together for just a month and a half.

October 2009 came and went. There were rumors it would be out in February 2010. February 2010 came and went. It is now November 2010, and he announced at the New York Comic Con in October that it would be  "sometime in 2011." AAAACCCKKK!!!

This blog post is supposed to (a la the handy prompts provided by NaBloPoMo) "Describe the plot of the next book you want to read, even if the book doesn't exist yet." Forgive me if I've taken the opportunity to RANT about the long overdue appearance of ANY plot for "A Dance With Dragons"!

OK--I'll step back a little. I mean, here we are, well into November, the annual season of frenetic and frantic writing, the season of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo. At this time of year, it's probably good to remember that the very reason we have these two fine traditions is that so many of us never get off our respective arses to write that book that we've been saying we'll write "someday." In all fairness to Mr. Martin, if tens of thousands of us wannabee writers have to use props like NaNoWriMo and NaNoBloPo to get our poop in a group, our pen to the page, our electrons onto the screen, why should it be any different for George R.R. Martin? Perhaps he has writer's block? [SPOILER ALERT]: Or perhaps he is tired of killing off all the "good guys" in his books, and is mourning over these losses and reconsidering his strategy. [END SPOILER] Or perhaps (gods forbid) he has lost interest in the story or the characters or both, and just can't bring himself to finish it.

I don't know. But I'm thinking that whatever it is that is the equivalent of clapping for Tinkerbell should be undertaken immediately by all "A Song of Ice and Fire" fans everywhere. Perhaps the equivalent life-saving (or in this case, book-series-saving) activity is just what we are all doing here: raising our pens to the page in solidarity and support of each other in developing/maintaining a good daily writing habit.

So, with my pen raised and my fingers anxiously poised over asdf jkl;, I salute you, George, and wish you godspeed in your effort to get "A Dance With Dragons" on book shelves everywhere by....oh....let's say Christmas, just for kicks and giggles, shall we? That would make such a nice holiday read. (And I'm going to clap furiously and repeat over and over, "I believe in fairies! I believe in faires!" just to hedge my bets.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NaBloPoMo 2010 Post #2 - The Bracelet

Today's writing prompt: Tell us the story of a piece of jewelry you own. Where did it come from, and what does it mean to you?

This is an even better question than yesterday's; and one with a very, very interesting answer...

I have a little sterling silver and onyx link bracelet that I received when I was five years old as a gift from my Uncle Poochie (he hates it when we call him that, but it's what we have called him since time out of mind, so he's just going to have to deal with it). He brought it back from Viet Nam after a year there with the Air Force in 1969. I love my Uncle Poochie, so I have always treasured the bracelet. Though I rarely wore it because the clasp was handmade and sometimes released when it shouldn't. Rather than risk losing the precious bracelet, I stopped wearing it altogether and let it adorn the inside of my jewelry box for about two decades before bringing it out again.

Two decades after receiving this priceless gift, I was traveling by plane from Starkville, Mississippi to see a long-distance boyfriend in Austin, Texas. When I was dressing for the trip, I wanted to look stunning when I got off the plane, so I put on more jewelry than I normally would have. I saw the beautiful little bracelet in my jewelry box and in a moment of forgetful inspiration clasped it onto my wrist.

I arrived at the airport without incident, but when I put my arms up to hug my boyfriend as I came off of the Jetway I noticed that my precious little bracelet was GONE! I immediately told the gate agent who allowed me to re-enter the plane and look all over the area where I had been sitting, dig around in the pouch in front of my seat, and retrace my steps all over the plane. Alas--it was GONE. Poof. Vanished.

I was dejected. It colored my visit with the boyfriend with a dark and gloomy glaze. (We broke up not too long after that, though it had nothing to do with the lost bracelet.)

When I returned home, every time I looked at my jewelry box I was stabbed with a pang of guilt. If only I'd left the precious little bracelet where it belonged. If only...

Two years later I was living in Montana. It had been Hell getting established there, both physically and emotionally. (That is a long and painful story to make a stone weep, and I'll spare you.) One day when I was feeling as low as I could get, and couldn't find a single reason to feel hopeful about my situation, I opened my jewelry box at the end of the day to put my earrings in it as I was undressing for bed and was absolutely stunned: my precious little lost bracelet was laying there in the jewelry box, where it always had lain for twenty years until I foolishly lost it.

I am not making this up. And I did not just think I lost the bracelet. The bracelet was lost, and the evidence of my painful error was with me every day for two years as I daily went in and out of that jewelry box to fetch and return the earrings of the day. There is no mistake. One day the bracelet was lost. The next day it wasn't. I have just walked to my bedroom to verify that it is still there, to make sure that I didn't imagine this highly implausible tale. It is still there. If you don't believe it was lost in the first place, you can contact my old boyfriend and he'll confirm how I lamented and wailed its loss (so much so that I ruined our weekend together).

I have no idea how the bracelet made it back into my jewelry box from the void. But it did. And I'm grateful to have it back; and to have it as a reminder that there are things in this universe so strange and mysterious that we cannot comprehend them.

NaBloPoMo 2010 Post #1

Since it's been nearly six months since my last blog post, I decided to join the NaBloPoMo initiative. I'm also doing NaNoWriMo for the fifth year in a row; so now I'll be cranking out a minimum of fifteen hundred words a day for my "novel," and making two blogs posts a day (for this one, as well as "Behold the Lilies"). I've been enthusiastic and motivated before about "turning over a new leaf" and posting every single day. Hope springs eternal, and the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Hopefully, I won't find myself in Hell at the end of the thirty days, and will find myself with an agent and on the road to publication instead. ;-)

I'm not proud, so I'll start off by using the handy prompts that NaBloPoMo provides. Prompt #1 for Day 1, November 1, 2010: How would your life change if you didn't have rent or a mortgage to pay, i.e., if your housing was free?

This is such a good question. Not because it's hard for me to answer, but because it's a question created from something that so many of us say to ourselves all the time anyway: "If only I didn't have to pay rent... If only I didn't have to make a car payment... If only I didn't have to work for a living... If only..."

But the speculation usually stops there for most of us. Hardly anyone I know goes beyond the "If only...." and finishes the statement with any kind of wish or plan. On the rare occasions anyone asks us what we really want, hardly anyone can come up with an answer.

I found this to be true of myself a while back. I was stunned by my lack of imagination! If I'd been asked "What do you really want?" twenty five years earlier I would likely have had a rapid fire list of ready responses. It's so easy to dream and want when we are young.

Despite the disturbing realization that I had no ready responses, I started thinking about it. I thought entirely too much about it, in my opinion; delving into why I can't want anything, and how I got to be this way. (I'll spare you the long and boring story of my painful delving and just skip to the end: what I want.) After identifying root causes and practicing the art of wanting and naming what I want, I can now answer this question easily.

If you didn't have to pay rent or a mortgage and my housing were free, I would still work for a living. Without the burdensome expense of a rent or a mortgage, I would finally have disposable income with which I could invest in myself and the accomplishment of my dreams. I would continue to live at the same standard of living I do now, but I would sock the money away for as long as it takes to build the emergency and retirement funds that investment and financial experts tell us we should have. With the peace of mind and boldness of spirit that money in the bank can provide, I would only work for someone else if they took such great care of me that I couldn't wait to get to work every morning. I would also do only the work that I love to do, and would not spend a single moment in any kind of drudgery or time-wasting, life-wasting endeavor.

I can't help but believe that the only person who is ever going to treat me as well and provide me with the perfect, meaningful, enjoyable work to which I would limit myself would be me. So I would most likely be self-employed. I would start another beauty salon, make it successful, replace myself as the manager and franchise it, and give half of the profits to charity.

I would write, publish and market all of the digital classroom tools that I have on my "to do" list but have never had time to finish; build an educational software empire, and give half of the profits to charity.

I would start a school for the arts and make it possible for any child who wants to attend it to do so, regardless of their economic situation; and I would take half of the profits from that organization and give them to the non-profit support organization I would create to cover tuition for the students who can't pay.

I would write every single day.

I would paint every single day.

I would play the piano every single day.

I would play the guitar every single day.

I would hike or ski or kayak every single day.

I would open a gallery in which to sell my artwork, and take on a brilliant gallery director as a partner to make it a raging success. I would take on another partner to syndicate my artwork as prints, greeting cards, etc., and make that venture a raging success also. I would donate half of the profits to charity.

I would travel six months out of the year with an easy mind, knowing that all of my business partners and colleagues are so highly qualified, reliable, and conscience-driven that I don't have to think about my business ventures back home, and can enjoy my time abroad.

In short, not having rent or a mortgage to pay would provide me with seed money and peace of mind, with which to plant my creative field, and the time and energy to tend it and watch it grow.