Pedigree and 500 Posts

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Apparently, I have written over 500 posts here on DAMSWriter. Wowee! This blog started out as The Daily Woman shortly after I got sober in 2006 and then become a few other things before I watched a video of Jeff Goins regarding branding.

So, I took a page out of his book and named my blog DAMSWriter. So, here I am over 500 posts later and still not where I want to be, but making deliberate steps to be where I want to be by pretending I am already there.

When I hear the word pedigree, I don’t think of family, or genealogy, or inherited traits. I think of dog food. Whether it is for pedigree dogs or not is irrelevant, but being called Pedigree implies that it is the best dog in town.

I want my blog to be the best blog in town. I want my books to be the best books in town. I want to have to wear sunglasses on an overcast day because if I don’t, people will recognize me. And hey, that is cool and all, but not when I am trying to go to Walmart to buy some soap (hey, famous people need simple things, too).

When I think of pedigree, I think of things that are so pure and pristine that even the biggest microscope could not pinpoint a single flaw in any of it. Bah, now that’s just insane.

Truthfully, I am having a hard time coming up with anything substantial to write these past weeks (if you regularly follow this blog, you may have had an inkling of this based on content) and I am pretending that it isn’t freaking me out. My mind is always turning and sadly, most of it is nothing useful. LOL, I am working on that, too.

Change the way you think and you change the way you feel.

I am giving everything to my higher power and going about my days. ❤ I have faith that everything is going exactly the way it is supposed to go. Because, if it were going any other way, it wouldn’t be my life.

What do you think of when you hear the word pedigree? Do you think of family? Royalty? Pristine things? Dog food?

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pedigree/

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Flash Fiction – The Leaf

Carmine Carmichael smoked his last cigarette twenty minutes ago.  The sun rose above the row homes on Sutter Street as he sat down on the marble steps at the corner.  He hadn’t slept in three days, hadn’t eaten in two days and hallucinations had begun.  His four-week-old blue jeans felt crunchy as he ran his hands up his shins, to his knees and then his thighs.

A dead leaf blew down the sidewalk, past his battered sneakers and he thought of how peaceful the dead leaf must have felt. It was, after all, devoid of all feeling.  The leaf had lived its life on a tree somewhere as people passed it by without a thought.

Carmine knew exactly how that little leaf felt. Another leaf blew past and Carmine reached his filthy hand down and scooped it up with care. The weak stem felt dry in his fingers as he twirled it around, looking at the rips in the body of the little leaf.

“I’ll bet you were once so beautiful, little leaf, just like me.  I was a strong man once, little leaf.”

The little leaf stood lifeless in his fingers and Carmine felt his eyes well up as he clutched the leaf to his chest. Little leaf pieces fell to the ground as Carmine sobbed.

Footsteps echoed in the distance and Carmine put his filthy hands back on his thighs and watched the leaf blow away in a dozen pieces.  Carmine watched as shiny, pristine shoes stepped on and over the leaf.

Carmine knew just how that little leaf felt.

Personal Essay: Victim of Tragedy

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It was a Tuesday.
I never listened to the radio in work – I was more of a compact disc person since I just figured out how to make my own CDs with music I ignorantly downloaded from the Internet.
I met a guy the previous year – also ignorantly on the Internet – which is a story in and of itself. He walked out on me after a disagreement about money and drove his car down to Virginia to see his sister whom he had not seen or spoken to for three years. After two days he had called me to beg for forgiveness; for a home.
Anyway, my co-worker, who was in the business of talking customers into an extra bundle of pizza boxes, yelled from the back office, “An airplane crashed into one of the twin towers!”
My first thought: What are the twin towers? My second thought: That’s what happens when you drink on the job.
I continued to print reports while working on a short story for my creative writing class. It was nice to have a job where I could get things done for me.
It made up for the shitty pay due to my lack of office skills.
My coworker shouted from the back again: “Another plane hit the other tower!”
Okay, so I guess it’s not drunk flying. I turned on the radio and listened to WMMR as Pierre Robert told me what he heard so far.
The phone rang.
It was my boyfriend.
“Airplanes flew into the twin towers,” he breathed.
“I know,”I said. “I just turned on the radio.”
“Oh Jesus, something just flew into the Pentagon.” He screamed.
“Doesn’t your sister work there?”
“Yes. This is unbelievable.” I could hear the panic in his voice as he sipped his 56-ounce refill cup of Pepsi and dragged on his cigarette.
I looked out the door again at the vehicles whizzing by. Did they know what was happening? One of the owners appeared outside, framed in the aluminum door – it was the one with the cane and the pimp daddy suits. He was a large man; Jewish; arrogant.
I didn’t like him.
My boyfriend told me he spoke with his dad. Her promotion carried her to the side of the building that was hit.
I was crying. The arrogant Jew asked me what was wrong. I told him. He asked me to come in his office. He held me and said it was going to be okay; everything was going to be fine and he would take care of me.
Suddenly, I was on my knees, under his desk, between his legs. When he finished, he helped me to my feet, handed me a hundred dollars and a Percocet. He gave me a long, molesting hug and said, “I’m sorry.”
I stared at him right in his eyes – silent and searching like a wounded doe searching the eyes of her hunter.
“Sorry for what?” I finally managed.
“Sorry for your loss,” he said.

*This story is a personal essay based on factual events.

Using (Real) Life to Tell Stories

 

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The Best Stories Come From Reality

As a kid, I loved the idea of telling stories and evoking emotions in people.  As I got older, my life had such crazy, insane, ‘did that really just f**king happen’ events, I didn’t need to delve deep into my childish imagination to dish out juicy prose.

Come on, clown pajamas for a Halloween costume, throwing up in my reading book (in front of the whole class), and milk in my Puff the Magic Dragon Thermos were so traumatic I thought there was no way I could continue. And all that was in second grade.

Had I known my life would be a major story every year, I would have kept a better diary.  I mean, all that and more happened before I turned eight years old.  What was next?

Fantasy monsters, spaceships, and candy eating aliens are cool (and could happen) but I love a real life story because I can relate.

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Right now I am writing a memoir and a novel based on events in my real life.  I have a friend who is a psychic who gave me a free reading after my husband tattooed her.  She told me my life would change after I told my story.  I swear, there were no animal feet or blood used in the reading.

So why am I dragging my feet like a kid in a dentist office?

Fear of success.

It is a thing.

I have written the first half of my memoir (the juicy good part with all my screw ups) and then I just stopped. WTF?! Yes, stopped and moved on to something else. I do this often.

But, I always come back. Always… I use real life in a lot of my writing. I think we all do, right?

I was talking to a co-worker the other day and he was telling me a story about how once he had to hand out church flyers when he was about eight years old. Of course, he had better things to do than hand out flyers… so how could he get rid of these pesky papers? Well, wouldn’t you know, he passed a farm every day and at the fence of the farm were goats.  He couldn’t believe it when he jokingly put a flyer in front of the goat that the goat started eating it!

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Handing Out Flyers problem: solved.

I used this story as a scene in my latest novel. It fit so well, I couldn’t pass it up.

Take a trip through your memory and pluck out those moments from yesteryear that you might think were no big deal, or maybe you thought you forgot about them. But you didn’t. Write about it.

…Then write about it from another point of view and embellish it a little. Or a lot.

How much real life is in your fiction?

The Asset of Defects

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Love/Hate (Photo credit: guevo)

I never knew what a character defect was until I stepped into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am breaking my anonymity, but it is no secret I am sober almost eleven years and I didn’t get sober alone.  No one gets sober alone.

I found an interesting list of character defects in my research of things I’ve not committed to memory.  Check out the list and see which ones might be screaming at you on any given day. This can be a kind of liberating fun (alkie or not) and if you are a writer, a great tool.

One of my chief character defects is laziness…  interpreted through the Seven Deadly Sins: SLOTH.  But my laziness is an asset in moderation.  For example, it’s Sunday (as I write this it really is Sunday – this will be posted on a Tuesday) and I am feeling sleepy, unmotivated and well, lazy.  I can turn my laziness into an asset by assessing why I am feeling lazy.  Am I just being a tree-climbing sloth or am I legitimately tired and need some rest?  Once I do an honest inventory of my sloth-like ways, I can make an honest judgment and figure out: Is my slothiness justified? 

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How does this relate to writing? Because any great character is full of defects… I don’t know about you, but reading about perfect people with perfect lives and perfect meatloaf is borrring.

I would much rather read about people I can relate to in real life. Do they curse a lot? Make sandwiches instead of hot meals three times a week? Maybe they always have the best intentions, but then that little sloth on the shoulder whispers “It’s okay, naps are more fun.”

Damn you Sloth… and your Slothy wisdom.

Defects are unchecked assets. An asset is saving money… but if you save too much? You’re no better than Scrooge McDuck and his miserly ways.  Maybe you like eating ice cream or chocolate cake… maybe you like casinos. Moderation? It’s all alright… Overkill? they have groups for that if you have a serious problem.

Sure, that glass of wine tastes good and by the second one, you’re feeling alright… But by glass number seven? Um, welcome to my old world when drinking and stupidity synonymously were my things.

Our characters need to be screwed up so much that they are interesting but not unbelievable. Like, Suzy might have a fetish for her own blood… but she can’t cut off an appendage and leave it to fester. Honestly, I’m not sure what defect that would fall into, except totally f**king weird.

Get lost, Weirdo Suzy.

Check out the list of character defects/assets… are any familiar to you? How do you research defects for your characters? 

 

Clown Pajamas Halloween – A True Story

When I was little I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I wanted to be a mechanic. Somewhere in between, I wanted to be a stuffed animal so I could sit on the radiator all day and look out the window with my polyester friends. It turned out I needed more than a love for arguing and gear lube to achieve either occupation.  And the stuffed animals, well, I haven’t figured out how to shapeshift… yet.

It was Halloween 1978 and I was a second grader in this terrible elementary school that looked more like a tuberculosis hospital turned insane asylum than a learning place for children. Back in the day, many schools were tall and intimidating with dark gray and brown stone exterior walls, grates over the windows and a wrought iron fenced school yard – some with pointed tips. I mean, it did seem fallout shelter-esque, though I never noticed the three triangle sign on the building.

So, I was in second grade, autumn was upon us and so was Halloween. Wonder Woman was huge that year and I remember wanting to be Wonder Woman so bad. Nothing else mattered but the Lasso of Truth and the Bracelets of Submission!

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Despite me not having friends in grade school, I had overheard some of the other girls talking about what they would be for Halloween and it was unanimous. Wonder Woman! This was great because… I loved Wonder Woman, too! If nothing, maybe I could get one friend out of this.

I burst through the door after school: “Mom!  I wanna be Wonder Woman for Halloween!” I beamed.

I was going to be something much better my mother told me and my brain rolled with anticipation. What could be better than Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman was the s**t! Nothing nor no one was better than Wonder Woman except Santa Claus who was only better in December!

It turned out that because we were so poor, a Wonder Woman costume was not in the cards for me. My mother told me this while holding a pair of pastel-colored pajamas in yellow and green.

“What are they?” I asked while my stomach flip-flopped like a dying fish.

“It’s a costume.”

“It looks like pajamas,” I corrected her.

“Well, not really. It is a costume. You’re going to be a clown.”

“A what?” My face flushed. “A clown?”

“Yes. A clown.”

I pondered this for a bit since clowns were creepy and maybe that would scare all those little brats at school into submission!

“Okay. Where is the rest of the costume?”

My mother never spared my feelings so instead of hemming and hawing she told me straight up: “There is no rest of the costume.”

The next day I went to school with my costume in a bag like all the other kids and at lunch time changed into my costume just like all the other kids.

“But it’s not even clown colors. Where are the clown shoes? The clown nose? Where is the clown makeup?” the brattiest girl mocked. “Look, everyone, Darlene is wearing pajamas for Halloween!” and all the little brats erupted with laughter.

Dear Lord, please turn me into a dustball right now!

But there I stood, searching my little brain for an answer, an excuse – something to get me out of this 3 x 6 hell.

I told them my mom forgot to pack it, that “my costume was gonna be great but we were in a hurry and I couldn’t miss my bus.”

After they pointed and laughed until the teacher came in to see what was going on, they let me slide, this group of future head cheerleaders and devil women. I went on to eat candy corn and potato chips and get silly little toys that day. However, the humiliation I felt in that coat room followed me for decades along with the “it’s great to be like everyone else” worm that wriggled into my brain.

I’ve since killed that worm, but there were so many moments like this one that shaped who I am today.

Stay tuned.

Got any embarrassing moments? Share in the comments below. 🙂

Over Thinking – The Destruction of Creativity

A roulette wheel.
Image via Wikipedia

You walk into a pool hall, a bowling alley or a casino for the first time.  All brand new and shiny, you are awed.  You take your first break of the rack, throw the bowling ball down the lane for the first time, or you bet it all on black.

WINNER! WINNER! WINNER!

Wow, this is easy!  You think.. but then you actually do start to think.  And then before you know it, you are scratching on the pool table or sinking the 8 ball prematurely.  Your bowling ball keeps gravitating to the gutter and you’re pretty sure you should leave the casino before you sign your kids over to the roulette wheel dealer.

Every time we over think something, we destroy the creativity and naturalness of what is to be.

Let’s take writing our plot for our story or blog.  We break it down into small pieces in an outline.  We have topics, sub topics, and then we have all the goodies to stuff inside.  I don’t know about you… but when it comes to writing fiction, I have to leave the outline right in front of my face.  I am still working on how to get it so that it is a transparent film over top of my computer screen.  Like back in the day with those projector screens in school.  As if!

Over thinking has been the creation of my demise.  Kind of an oxymoron, but I think you get the gist.   I get a simple idea, and then before I know it, I am adding too much sugar, taking out a lot of salt, and voila!  I have some nasty concoction that was once awesome.

Of course we have to have characters, a plot, a sub lot, and all the other cream that gets stuffed inside.  Easy… one thing at a time.  Outlines help me out because I have a tendency to travel on one road and then I see a little offshoot, and before I know it, I am writing ten pages about the sub plot (which is starting to interfere with the main plot) and.. wait, what was I writing about?  How did this purple Smurf get in here?  Damn my over thinking!

Sometimes we need something along the lines of a purple Smurf.  Maybe your purple Smurf has a dog named Vlad that shoots flames out of his paws.  Who knows.  It is good to have a scratch pad or something to the side (I do this.. it gets the distractions out of my head) to doodle your cockamamie ideas.

You never know…. getting it out of your over active imagination might lead you to something big!  For today, there is only do, or do not.  There is no over thinking.