I’m still hand writing first drafts. It’s working out well. I like the organic, Zen-like flow of words from pen to paper. I’m not sure what that means actually but it sounds good.
For thousands of years the only way people could write was by hand. Pen, stylus or pointy rock to paper, animal-hide or cave wall. It’s the mind moving the hand to form words. Only in the past, 100 years or so, have people had regular access to keyboards to compose thought.
When I replied back to Neal on my last post it got me thinking more about my own progression to writing on a computer. I did not get a computer until my last year in college, which was the late 80s. Even then, I still handwrote the first drafts of my papers and then typed them in, editing as I went. After that when I started working full time it was several years before I had a computer at my desk and even used a computer all day.
In the first law firm I worked at only secretaries and word processors had computers at their desk. Also one of the paralegals who doubled as the firm’s IT guy. The rest of us had to dictate our work like the attorneys. I used to index documents and summarize depositions by speaking into a Dictaphone. It was strange and intimidating for me especially when I had to hand the finished tape to surely a word processor to be transcribed.
I didn’t get a computer at my desk until 1995 when I started working at a different firm. During that point of the interview when the managing attorney said, “Do you have any questions?” I asked if the paralegals were allowed to have computers at their desk and I’m pretty sure that’s what got me the job. Thus my business writing directly to a computer began.
I still did personal writing by hand. It wasn’t until 2002 did I ever consider keeping my journal on a computer or typing first drafts directly. What changed in 2002? Why this is when I met Jerry and he got me my first laptop!
I didn’t even think about it at first. I just started typing. I liked the tap-tapping noise my typing made on the keyboard; it sounded like words. At lunch I used to sit in my car with that laptop and work on short stories just because I could.
Eventually the newness of it all wore off and distractions crept in. The big one? The Internet! And therein lies my reason to continue to hand writing first drafts. No internet! Sitting at my desk with just a pen and a piece of paper and no Facebook to update or Twitter feeds to check or blogs to read keeps my thoughts focused and hand moving.
No distractions…except Jerry telling me, “Hey, as long as you’re up why don’t we get into work early?” Because the computer is not turned on, so I can’t be doing anything important, right?
I’ve been having a helluva time writing lately. Even composing emails at work is painful.
I finally decided it was the computer’s fault. I wrote the draft of this post sitting at the table putting words on paper. Words came out through my hands, moving the pen instead of on the computer screen and ah-ha! Something finally started happening.
As I’ve suspected for a long time now. I’m one of those people who needs to practice pen to paper writing from time to time. Hopefully it’s not a permanent thing because I do love that tap-tapping sound writing on the keyboard makes. Not only that but good god, if Jerry knew that a simple piece of paper and a crappy pen from the dollar store proved a better source of creative inspiration than the multitude of electronic gadgets he’s bought me over the years I’m dead.
Any writers reading this right now? Do you like to sit down with old fashioned pen and paper or can you write exclusively on a keyboard?
I had the best conversation with Jerry the other night:
Jerry: How about chili for dinner? We have a can in the pantry. We can heat that up and have it over rice.
Me: Sounds good. Want to add a can of corn as well?
Me: Why not? You like corn. We have tons and it should make for a nice hearty chili.
Jerry: No! I hate corn in chili.
Me: You hate corn in chili? We’ve been married for 10 years and I had no idea.
Jerry: Well now you know.
Me: You hate it when they put corn in the chili!
Unless you are a Meg Cabot fan and have read The Princess Diaries this conversation will baffle you as much as it did Jerry. For me, it made my day!
Every few months my favorite author Meg Cabot has a short story contest on her fan forums. Every time she announces a new contest I check it out and think, that sounds like fun, I should participate. And then I never do because I talk myself out of it using excuses like, I won’t be able to come up with a good idea or this is supposed to be for teens, I’m too old, dumb, busy etc.
This time I put my excuses on hold and decided to accept Meg Cabot’s challenge to write a short short story (1000 words or less) on the theme of Valentine’s Day. I told myself I was working on a “special project” assigned by Meg Cabot that I HAD to finish. It’s screwed-up weird-ass fan-girl logic but at least it worked.
It’s the story of a girl named Marissa told through online chats she has with her best friend, Brandon and two other boys from her school. It may be dumb, it may fall flat and it is virtually buried by tons of fabulous short shorts written by talented teenagers on the Meg Cabot fan forums, but writing it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time:
I hate Valentine’s Day.
Hi Marissa. Lemme guess. This has something to do with the rose you found in your locker.
You know me so well Brandon.
Being friends since kindergarten has that affect on me. What’s wrong with the rose anyway? I thought girls went for that stuff.
Roses are fine I guess. But it’s one of those roses the cheerleaders were selling for their monthly fundraiser. I hate the idea of supporting those rah-rahs.
Aw come on, can’t the rah-rahs have a little fun?
OK you’re right, it’s not really that. My problem is the card has some message on it and isn’t signed. I’ve been going crazy all day trying to figure out who sent it.
A secret admirer!
I was thinking maybe it was Brian. He’d want to buy a rose right? You know, to support the cheerleaders?
That jock? Getting a Valentine’s rose for you?
Nothing against you of course. It’s just that…I didn’t think he’d be your type is all.
Brandon, he’s HOT! Have you SEEN his butt in those tight football pants?
I gotta go.
Hi Brian, you there?
Hey Marissa! What’s up?
Oh nothing. Just wondering if you saw anyone near my locker this afternoon. You know…with a rose?
Nope. Hey did you see that running play today at practice where I took the snap and fake trap to the fullback?
Um, no can’t say I did.
Oh. Well I’ve been chatting with Dave about it all afternoon. He was pretty impressed. I can’t wait for our game tomorrow night. You coming?
Not sure yet. Probably. Oh hey I hear my mom calling. Gotta go! Talk to you later!
Brandon, you there? You’re right. Brian is so not my type.
Maybe it was Dave who left the rose?
That guy who hangs out with Brian?
Yeah, he’s pretty cute!
Again, nothing against you, but I never saw him with you. Or any girl for that matter.
Why not? He’s really nice and thoughtful and all the girls love to hang out with him. I feel totally comfortable asking him.
Hi Marissa! OMG, I loved that sweater you wore to school today. Totally cute! Where did you get it?
I got it on sale at Forever 21. I don’t think they sell guys clothes there though.
Oh too bad.
So how’s your Valentines Day going so far?
Great! You know those roses the cheerleaders were selling?
You bet I do!
Well, I bought one for someone and left it in their locker.
REALLY??? And who’s locker might that be???
Well….I’m kinda shy about this….but I guess you’ll find out about it eventually.
Oh Dave. I already know. You’re SO SWEET!
Aw! Who told you? What did he think?
He? Wait…what are you talking about? Didn’t you leave a rose in my locker?
YOUR locker? Um no. Sorry Marissa I think you’re really nice and all but you’re not really my type. I left a rose for Brian. Didn’t you know that we’re both….well…not really into girls?
Oh…yes…of course I knew. I think it’s great! I’m sure you and Brian will make a cute couple.
There he is now! Gotta go!
OK, I totally know it wasn’t Dave now. OR Brian. That’s confirmed.
hahahaha! I tried to tell you.
I just wish I knew who gave this to me. Did I mention the note attached? It’s red but looks like kind of a blob, not heart shaped at all.
Well, around Valentine’s Day it’s easy to remember that the heart is actually shaped like a fist.
Hey, that’s what it says on the card! Wait a minute…Brandon was it you???
Happy Valentine’s Day Marissa! I know we’ve been friends for a long time but lately I’ve notice that my hands form a fist when you start talking about other guys.
Brandon I had no idea! And I’m so glad! The only reason why I talk about other guys is because I thought you didn’t have romantic feelings for me either. Maybe we should get off IM and see what happens between us in person?
Sounds like a great idea! See you in a few minutes.
[Account signed off. Auto reply from hi_its_issa: Sorry I can’t chat right now. I’m busy celebrating Valentine’s Day!]
[Account signed off. Auto reply from bran_man: Do not disturb. MAKE OUT TIME!]
The House. The House. The House. THE HOUSE. Sorry I haven’t blogged in so long but I’m a little preoccupied these days and all my creative energy has been sucked up by THE HOUSE!
Anyone who owns a house knows that the responsibility can be overwhelming. Suddenly you are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of a whole entire building. Put that building in another state, 240 miles away, add some peeling stucco, a faulty staircase and a multitude of other annoying problems and you get some major stress.
In the past 6 months I’ve experienced a level of anxiety I haven’t seen since 1995 when I worked at a law firm that represented clients being sued by dying AIDS patients.
People have been telling me I should write about it, to help get it all out. I’ve been telling myself the same thing. But seriously, will writing about new stucco really help?
Does anyone really care about the week of sleep I lost when Jerry and I decided at the last minute to forgo white trim we had studied carefully in all shades of light on specially made stucco samples for a color we chose off the chart the night before it went up?
It was called FEATHERLY and it ended up being a great move. The new stucco on the house, with dark trim around the doors and window, is beautiful.
Next on deck is a deck.
For some reason the blue moon we had last night fascinated me. Friday morning while I was thinking about it I pulled out my iPhone and fired up my Ladytimer app and voila!
Not only did August have two full moons but I also got my period twice this month! I did some more looking back and saw that my menstrual cycle follows the lunar cycle pretty closely.
I’m sure I’m not the only woman who had made this same discovery but it sure did make me feel special! It reminded me that I am in fact connected to this earth. And for some reason that confirmed to me that I am in fact on the right path, which is something I’ve been fretting about lately, what with buying that new house which seems to have a new problem with it every time we go up there.
Don’t worry, I haven’t lost it yet. If anything this revelation has helped calm me down.
Excuse me now while I construct a red tent in the backyard.
Nine years ago when Jerry and I started dating he took me to central Nevada. Less than an hour after our flight on the Casino Express landed at the Elko airport we were in a 4 wheel driving across the desert.
Jerry was in heaven and I was wondering where the nearest Target was. Turns out it was at the Nevada/Utah boarder in Wendover.
Jerry had been talking about his love for Nevada as long as I’d known him. He told me his dream was to retire there. I nodded politely and “The sky sure is a pretty shade a blue.” The sky was a pretty shade of blue and I did see some beauty in the desert but at the tender age of 35, the idea of retiring out there scared the crap out of me.
When he pulled up at a real estate office a few minutes later I burst out in tears.
Jerry doesn’t do well with tears. He told me right then and there that any future we had together would have to include Nevada. If I wasn’t up for that I could move on.
By that time my heart was already won so I adopted the Nevada dream as well and after eight years of scouring the internet, countless road trips, numerous phone calls with real estate agents and most importantly, squirreling away cash, I am happy to announce that we now own four acres of Nevada land with this on it:
It was a pretty good compromise I think. There’s enough land for Jerry to feel remote yet only a 5 minute drive to downtown Carson City, Nevada’s state capitol and home to a Target and plenty of other retail establishments to make me feel at home. Best of all, it was cheap.
Of course, cheap doesn’t come without its own price. The house does need a nice chunk of construction work done to it. We’ve spent the majority of the summer gathering bids from contractors and hope to finally get started with work on the place soon. Here’s hoping I’ll have some “after” photos by next month.
I was introduced to Laura Ingalls Wilder when my third grade teacher read Little House on the Prairie to the class. I was hooked immediately and have been reading the Little House books ever since.
I recently re-read (for the bizillionith time) one of my favorites in the series, Little Town on the Prairie. I like this book because finally we see the Ingalls family prospering. They have chickens and a garden and even though they miss her being gone, they have enough money to send Mary to college. (Although I should confess: I always thought “good riddance” when Mary went to college. Once she became blind she was no fun.)
True to the title, most of the book focuses on the goings on and time the Ingalls family spent living in town. Unlike the previous winter which was spent in isolation and near starvation due to constant blizzards, this year in town is a fun place to live with literaries, parties, exchanging name cards and even a brief ride to the school house in Almanzo Wilder’s buggy.
Laura enjoys going to school and becomes reacquainted with Minnie Johnson and Mary Power who we met the year before in The Long Winter. We also see the reappearance of bratty Nellie Olsen from On the Banks of Plum Creek (she’s still a royal beyotch) and meet a new girl, the minister’s adopted daughter Ida Brown.
Which brings me to my question. Who was Laura’s best friend? Was it Mary Power or Ida Brown?
When I was younger I always assumed that the title should go to Laura’s seat mate in school, Ida Brown. Laura admired Ida because she was so sweet and sincere and never jealous or vengeful of the other girls who had more than her. In fact, we learn in These Happy Golden Years that Ida Brown was Laura’s maid of honor (OK, she and her boyfriend Elmer witnessed at the 15 minute legal ceremony which consisted of Laura, Almanzo and Reverend Brown, but still….) which certainly would give her best friend status right?
However during my most recent reading of Little Town on the Prairie I began to wonder if maybe Mary Power was a better friend to Laura. Mary Power was the one who Laura truly hung out with. They went to parties together and spent Saturday afternoons sewing together. Later on in These Happy Golden Years, Mary Power and Cap went on double buggy dates with Laura and Almanzo.
Not only that but Mary Power was probably a better influence on Laura than Ida. During this most recent read it struck me that Ida was actually not the “sweet dear” the other girls held her out to be. While she was no Nellie Olsen, Ida did have a mischievous streak, stereotypical of the minister’s daughter. Remember, it was Ida Brown who inspired the poem about Lazy Lousy Liza Jane and then got the boys all riled up and singing the song around town.
I’m also pretty sure that the Power family were better friends of the Ingalls than the Reverend and Mrs. Brown. Pa was entrusted to walk Laura and Mary Power home from Ben Woodworth’s party, while Ida had to wait for Reverend Brown. Years later in The First Four Years, it is Mrs. Power (presumably Mary’s mother) who helps Ma deliver Laura’s baby. Also, it’s pretty clear from the books that the Ingalls family never thought much of Reverend Brown as a preacher. They tolerated and respected him as a man of the cloth but really he was too loud and preachy for their taste, unlike their beloved and gentle Reverend Alden from Walnut Grove who they fondly remembered and spoke of throughout the books.
So on this most controversial subject I’m going to take a stand. While I realize friends were few and far between out there on the Dakota Prairies back in the 1880s, I’m going to declare Mary Power as Laura Ingalls best friend.
Are you a Little House fan? If so who do you think Laura’s best friend was?
As you may already know, I’m a huge Meg Cabot fan. So when I heard about the Meg-A Readers Blog Hop hosted by Romance Bookie and Little Miss Drama Queen I made sure I was on the list to participate. Little did I know that this would open up a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. Because for my Meg-A Readers assignment I am thrilled to announce that I am interviewing one of my favorite Meg Cabot characters, the royal bestie to Her Royal Highness Princess Mia Renaldo Thermopolis, the one and only…Tina Hakim Baba!
Lady Jessop: Ms. Hakim Baba, welcome to my humble blog.
Tina: Thank you so much! And please, call me Tina.
Lady Jessop: Tina, I’m honored. As best friend to Princess Mia, you must be in the public eye a lot. How do you manage?
Tina: Well, I do have a bodyguard, Wahim, who has been with me since high school, and he protects me from the paparazzi. And from stray maniacs who my father is convinced may kidnap me.
Lady Jessop: I see Wahim sitting in the corner over there. He’s quite the looker.
Tina: So I’ve heard but I don’t see Wahim like that. Never have. Besides, I only have eyes for my boyfriend, Boris.
Lady Jessop: Ah yes, Boris. What is he up to these days?
Tina: Well after the release of his 5th album he got pretty bored with music so he’s now studying law at Harvard. He wants to specialize in international law with a focus on Russia. He’s so brilliant! In fact he’s currently writing a paper exploring the issues of intellectual property laws in the post-Soviet space.
Lady Jessop: <yawn!> Excuse me Tina. If I could change the subject…I have to ask…what is with this fascination you have with Kay’s Jewelers?
Tina: Hey don’t knock Kay’s Jewelers! Of all the jewelry retailers out there, Kay’s is by far the most romantic. Have you seen some of their commercials? Tiffany’s may have those sweet turquoise boxes, but Kay’s supports romance and that’s what giving jewelry is all about, romance!
Lady Jessop: Were you disappointed when you found out that Boris bought your promise ring at Tiffany’s?
Tina: Well…maybe just a little. But poor Boris couldn’t help it. He was unfairly influenced by Lana who makes no secret that she thinks my attachment to Kay’s is lame. And Boris presented the ring to me in such a romantic way I decided to let it slide this one time.
Lady Jessop: You do know a lot about romance Tina! One might say that you’re an expert on the subject. Have you considered a future in…say writing romance novels?
Tina: Oh I couldn’t. Writing a romance novel would be so hard. I’ll stick to reading them….and going to medical school of course.
Lady Jessop: What are you reading these days?
Tina: I just finished Lawless, a classic historical romance by Nora Roberts. Jake Redman was sooo hot and reminded me of Boris! That scene where he knife fights the Indian to save the kidnapped Sarah was just like the time when Boris pulled me and the Michael Kors tote I had my eye on, from the sales mob at Saks.
Lady Jessop: That Boris sure is a prize. Any other favorite authors?
Tina: My new favorite is Meg Cabot. I found out about her after she wrote Mia’s biography, so I decided to read some of her other biographies and I was really impressed! The books she wrote on Samantha Madison, you know, the girl who saved the president’s life? Those were fantastic! I always wondered what possessed that girl to share her sex life on VH1. And that expose on Nikki Howard was amazing! Then I found out that Meg Cabot wrote Regency Romances under the pen name of Patricia Cabot years ago! Most of those books are out of print now but I scour for old copies on eBay and used bookstores. They are fabulous!
Lady Jessop: Do you read any of Meg Cabot’s recent work?
Tina: Absolutely! I can’t wait to get started on my copy of Underworld and I’m anxiously waiting for the release of Size 12 and Ready to Rock. My favorite will always be Mia’s biography though. I’m not exactly sure how Ms. Cabot got a hold of Mia’s diaries, even I have never been privy to them. I think Mia’s grandmother may have something to do with it but I guess it’s OK since they did set the record straight after those extremely inaccurate (but very entertaining) movies about Mia’s life.
Lady Jessop: Anne Hathaway is great and all but hello? Mia is a blond! And San Francisco???
Tina: I know right?
Lady Jessop: I see Wahim pointing to his watch over there. I think you may need to go. Thank you Tina for stopping by!
Tina: My pleasure!
*Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win some great Meg Cabot-themed prizes! Click here to find the entry form.
My friend Lisa is someone who comes up in this blog occasionally and in my thoughts a lot. This is for good reason. She is my oldest friend and was as much an integral part of my childhood as my own brothers. I knew her before I even knew my brothers and considering our mother’s became friends when they were pregnant with us, one could argue that Lisa and I knew each other before we were born.
My earliest childhood memory of Lisa goes back to when we were 2, maybe 3, years old and her toy stove. Lisa’s dad built the stove out of a big wooden box painted white and big enough to fit a couple of kids inside. Flat coiled coat hanger wires were fastened to the top to make burners along with a few discarded dials, either from a real stove or maybe a TV. Best of all, the stove had small wheels attached to the bottom and a small door on the front side of the box which was supposed to be the oven. But Lisa and I did very little pretend baking or cooking. Instead we would climb into the box via the oven door and scurry across the kitchen floor, pretending we were in a car. Once we got to our destination we’d close the oven door so it was pitch dark and pretend we were at the movies.
A few years later when Lisa’s family moved to another house the stove was given to my brothers and me. It lived in the playhouse we had in our backyard and it became the main prop in a game we called Witchy-Witch. I believe that Witchy-Witch was the invention of one of the neighbor kids, but I’m pretty sure Lisa and her sister Lynda played the game with us many times as well. Witchy-Witch was our version of Hansel and Gretel. One kid played the witch and chased the other kids around the yard trying to catch them. If you got caught you got stuffed in the stove.
Lisa always tells me that I remember everything from the past and it’s true. My head is filled with great childhood memories and she happens to be in the majority of them.