The Author Lost Her Brain

Hile inklings!

I have a lesson for you today. Just one little lesson. Won’t take a minute, I promise. And I’m going to tell you it in my very next paragraph. So here goes:

When you schedule a blog post in advance, make sure that the post actually has something written in it before it automatically goes live.

We don’t need to discuss the circumstances that led to my arrival at this wondrous bit of concluding wisdom, do we?

I didn’t think so.

Moving right along, I’ve got a less than pleasant medical test to deal with today, so I must needs leave you dears to fend for yourselves. Have a look at the image below, drop me a line, or feel free to check the sidebar for previous posts that might be to your liking. Ooooh, or go check out my About page! I updated it a few weeks ago and would love to hear what you think.

Have a cramazing day!

Click image to embiggen — especially if you reside where it’s hot and, like we Oklahomans, could use some relief!

Google Analytics Makes Me Nerd Out

Cream or sugar? Paper or plastic?

So. If you’re a blogger and you care about who your readers are and where they come from and how many they number, you probably spend some time obsessing over Google Analytics.

I don’t obsess. No, really, I don’t. I check my Google Analytics (GA) probably an average of twice per week. Some weeks, I check fewer times than that.

But.

I do check.

And I am especially fond of the keyword stuff.

Keyword Stuff

“Keyword stuff” is my very technical and jargon-y phrase for the part of GA that tells you which keywords your readers searched for in order to end up at your blog. My blog hasn’t been around long enough to get any really bizarre keyword searches — but I’ve heard they’re out there. I can’t wait to get enough clout (not necessarily Klout, mind you) to have some truly weird keyword searches under my blogging belt.

In the meantime, though, here are some of my favorite keyword search results so far and the posts I think drew the individual searches to my blog:

cream or sugar paper or plastic quite clearly homed in on my post 33 Questions for My Readers.

Whoever searched indie author freaks on review probably wasn’t looking for me, but their search led them to my video Insert Maniacal Indie Author Here.

Most entertainingly, I mention vampire pornography here. Click it. I dare you. ; )

I do hope my blog post Let’s Talk About Mosquitoes, Hives, and Outlines answered someone’s question why do i like to talk about mosquitos. Although I don’t claim to know why someone would enjoy talking about mosquitos. Me, I enjoy squooshing them.

its just a no good horrible t brought someone to the one where I have a bad day and am Russian. But what’s up with the “no good horrible t”? Nobody knows.

1500 westwood blvd leads to…I have no earthly clue. Or a heavenly clue. Or any clue in-between. So here’s a link to one of my personal favorite posts: I Wrote This Because You Are Beautiful.

So, dear readers who landed at my blog in many varying and wonderful ways, what are your favorite keyword searches? What have you searched for that led you to sites you didn’t expect? (Do attempt to keep that clean, please. ; )

What about your secret GA obsession? What bizarrities have led readers to your blog?

Who Am I?

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am at your command.

Half of the tasks that you do, you might as well turn over to me, and I will do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed;

you must merely be firm with me.

Show me exactly how you want something done;
after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great people
— and, alas, of all failures, as well.

Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, but I work with the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a person.
You may run me for profit, or you may run me for ruin
— it makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me,
and I will lay the world at your feet.

Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

I am called Habit.

Author Unknown

All I Have to Do Is Dream

 

Last week, dear inklings, I shared with you my thoughts inspired by Jennifer Brown’s post about “backseat dreaming”.

Jennifer is my Muse once more today. Her post Dreaming Life and Living Dreams reminded me of my fascination with nighttime dreams.

Imprisoned by dreams?

In Living Color

Once upon a time, when I wasn’t writing much, I dreamed in vivid detail and color — every night. My dreams were intense enough that I rarely woke up feeling refreshed. My husband told me that while he had a nice, quite, empty warehouse in his head at night, I had an IMAX theater in mine.

There is no better description.

After I finally realized that I was, indeed, created to create — i.e. after I let myself start becoming the writer I was meant to be — I stopped remembering most of my dreams.

And I started sleeping again, can I get a hallelujah?!?

*ahem*

Anyway, during my years of crazy dreaming, I kept a journal in which I recorded over 150 dreams. And today, my darlings, I’d like to share with you one of the weirder ones. I hope you enjoy. : )

Mortals Akseptans

Dream #67, recorded May 13, 2004

Last night, I dreamed that vampires were chasing me. I wasn’t myself; instead, I was a little girl, about 6 or 7 years old. I was at a truck stop of some sort, next to a lonely, deserted highway. Only a few other customers were in the truck stop. I think I was eating a meal when the vampires came in. I knew they were after me, so I ran outside.

I thought that being in sunlight would save me, but these vampires were immune to the sun. Several of them stayed inside the truck stop, hunting the other customers. Four or five vampires pursued me, and I ran into some sort of tunnel.

The walls were curved, and the whole place was made of metal, so I was running through a long, metal tube. Occasionally, there were large round openings in the ceiling. A male and a female vampire chased me through the tunnel, and the others started dropping in through the openings in the ceiling.

Finally, the vampires surrounded me. As they closed in on me, I turned frantically from side to side, looking for an escape. I caught sight of something strange written on the wall: the words “mortals akseptans” printed in the middle of a sun symbol.

When the vampires saw what I was looking at, they turned away and fled down the tunnel, as though they were afraid of the words. Knowing that they would soon recover and come after me again, I started running in the opposite direction.

I found my way out of the tunnel and ended up in a marshy area. The sun was shining bright, but water was rising all around me, as though I were in the middle of a flood. Suddenly, I realized that the vampires had caught up with me. I was trapped on a tiny little spit of land surrounded by water, and the vampires had only to grab me at their leisure.

I knelt and drew the sun symbol in the sand, then scratched the words “mortals akseptans” in the middle of the sun.

The symbol protected me for awhile, keeping the vampires at bay. But eventually, water eroded the ground and my feeble defense with it. The vampires came closer and closer, and I could see their hunger and desire in their eyes. Several of them were licking their lips, which were wet and red with blood. Then the dream ended.

_______________________

I’ve since Googled the word “akseptans” out of curiosity. Apparently, it is Turkish for “acceptance.” There’s probably something Freudian in there somewhere, but I don’t think I want to puzzle it out. ; )

If you, however, want to analyze my dreams or tell of your own, please share in the comments! I’d love to hear!

Be Honest — Was I Snoring?

 

Sweet inklings, I’ve found another bloggèd gem: Jennifer Brown’s post about owning our time and taking back the power we’ve given away. Jennifer talks about how we so often settle for “backseat driving” through life, instead of getting behind the wheel ourselves.

Instead of following our dreams, we content ourselves (however resentfully) with sitting back and watching others follow theirs.

We might tell the “dreamer,” “Hey! You’re not doing it right. You should be doing it this way.”

But actually do something about our own dreams?

Nah. Driving that car would be way too risky.

Jennifer’s post sparked the following comment from me:

Jennifer, I LOVE this metaphor! “Backseat dreaming” — I’d never thought of it that way, but it makes so much sense as a description of the mindset that keeps us from going after what we sincerely wish for!

I’m not sure I’ve been a backseat dreamer…but I have been a notorious passenger seat driver. Watching how the driver shifts gears, noting how early/late they brake, critiquing the use of turn signals.

Have I been a passenger seat dreamer?

I think so.

Not as much in recent years — but I know I’ve been guilty of watching others drive toward their dreams and, instead of driving toward my own, criticizing how others are doing it. I’m in the passenger seat: close enough to the action to seem like I’m a part of it, but not doing anything that would expose me to criticism.

No more! I’m getting vulnerable now, taking responsibility for my passions and following them.

It’s terrifying!

And liberating!

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

I Hope I Didn’t Snore

Finally, I am awake. I am following my dreams, pursuing my passions, and doing other hunter-stalker-like things in regard to what I’ve felt called to do my entire life.

Will I screw up? Sure. I’m likely to drive off the road a few times, because I am easily distractable, and I turn the steering wheel in whatever direction my eyes happen to go. (Yes, I’m one of those.)

But at least I have my hands on the wheel. I’m doing what I was created to do.

And I love this ride.
_____________________

So, dear reader.

Are you a backseat dreamer?

Are you more concerned with how others are pursuing their dreams than with pursuing your own?

Are you a passenger seat dreamer — close enough to seem like you’re in on the wild ride, but not actually making any choices that relate to your own passions?

What do you have to do to get in the driver’s seat?

How My Bachelor’s in Writing Didn’t Prepare Me for Writerhood

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

~Henry Ford

In December 1999, I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English/Writing and thought I knew everything I needed to know about writing books.

Why, yes — I am waiting for your laughter to subside.

Okay, okay, calm yourselves, please. What do you think this is, a late-night comedy club?

Sheesh.

😉

Idealist Writer Changes World — Details at 11

So. Here I am, 22 years old with all of three-and-a-half years of higher education under my belt. I’m off to former East Germany as soon as possible. I shall change the world one relationship at a time and write books while I do it. I am Tawanda, Queen of the Amazons. Hear me roar.

For my senior project, I’d completed a Monster Epic Fantasy Novel (aka MEFaN), which I’ve previously mentioned here. My profs approved it. Their praise wasn’t exactly glowing, but it was shiny, at least. I thought my novel was ready to shop to publishers.

Um. No.

If you click through, you’ll see that the MEFaN in question was a first draft. I’d heard my creative writing prof mention such hideous things as re-write and edit and multiple drafts

— but I was 22 and brilliant. What need I with multiple drafts?

*sigh*

Ow, My Aching Ego

I learned. I learned that I was good for a 22-year-old straight outta college. I learned that I was not as good as what editing, rewriting, and plain ol’ life experience could make me. I learned that my profs’ shiny-almost-glowing praise was for how far I’d come by then.

But good grades, I finally realized, were not the final measurement of my skills. I realized that my writing degree was my starting point. My writing degree prepared me to begin.

And I’ve spent the last 14 years doing the work.

But here’s what my degree did not prepare me for.

Money, Money, Money

As part of my general education in college, I was required to take an economics class. I ended up in a course called Free Enterprise System.

Sadly, this had nothing to do with liberated starships.

Sadly, I learned exactly two things in this course:

  1. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. Booya.
  2. When one member of the project team doesn’t do his job, the economics prof doesn’t care that the rest of the team does theirs. Everybody gets penalized a letter grade because of the one lazy slob.
  3. Yay teamwork! I love teamwork!

Also sadly, I was not required to take any courses in personal finance (i.e. how-to-budget, etc.) or in finances for writers.

So, years later, when the husband and I got into serious trouble over self-employment taxes, my reaction was as follows:


 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing Homework

Let me be clear: I blame no one for this but myself.

I shoulda done my homework. After all, there is such a thing as thinking for oneself.

In the meantime, I’ve figured things out a little. I now understand things about withholding. I now understand that calculating my taxes myself is a rather dumb thing for me to do (especially when my info conflicts with that of the IRS). I now know to keep track of expenses like the ones listed in this article.

The business-sensible thing for me to do with this post would be to provide you with a list of such resources as that one. But I’m not writing this to be business-sensible.

I’m writing this to emphasize that even after getting our educations — whether that’s at the collegiate level or simply through life experience and trial-and-error — we writers still have to do our homework.

Yeah, we gotta research stuff for our writing. We read novels, articles, and papers. We drive to remote locations to get the feel and flavor of a place or to take pictures for cover art. We interview people. We visit museums. We sit in coffee shops, pondering and muttering to ourselves.

But we also have to research for our business.

It might be the most important thing I’ve learned about writing since graduation:

Writing is a business.

And the writer is CEO, VP, treasurer, secretary, and go-fer.

And this is every writer. Not just the self-published ones.

Writers, we must learn to think of ourselves this way.

If somebody had taught me this in college and forced me to sit down and learn the non-creative, non-artsy, non-inspiring, soul-sucking side of writing, it could’ve saved me a lot of trouble. And a lot of heartache.

So, do your homework, writers. Nobody’s gonna make you learn this stuff. You’ve gotta take responsibility (do as I say, not as I do) and do your research.

And for the love of all that’s good, true, and writerly in this world, keep track of your gas mileage.

__________________________

What financial education did you get along the way?

What’s been your experience with self-employment?

What’s been your experience thinking of yourself as a business — or not thinking of yourself that way?

If you’re more into the business side than the creative writing side, what one thing do you think writers need to be aware of?

Writer, Screw in the Light Bulb Already!

In last week’s post But What’s the Because?, I pondered writerly reasons for blogging or for sharing other types of writing with the world.

Apparently, ideas have turned all theme-y in my brain — because here I am, blogging about them again. This time, I’m drawing inspiration from Patrick Ross’s terrific post about Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon.

Chabon says that ideas are like bright light bulbs filling room after room. The lights entice him to distraction. His challenge is to figure out which one is worth his time and energy.

My experience with these “light bulbs” is different. Here are some of the thoughts I shared when I commented on Patrick’s post:

For me, getting ideas is like wandering from room to room in a ginormous mansion. Sometimes, there’s a bright light that draws me to a particular room. I go in and follow that one light to wherever it leads me. When I’m finished in that room, I leave it and go on to the next bright light.

Some lights are dimmer than others — so I know not to enter those rooms until later (i.e. I put those ideas aside for the time being).

Sometimes, one of the rooms lacks a light. Illumination might spill from another doorway, just barely touching the threshold of the darkened room. But there’s no light burning in that room, so I know not to enter it…

…unless I’m feeling particularly adventuresome and want to challenge whatever might be lurking in the darkness. ; )

Challenge the darkness? Do I dare?

You better believe I do.

I’ve got all the tools I need in that dark room. The skills I’ve learned and practiced. The passion in being created to create. The love for my craft. The fellow creatives God has blessed my life with.

If there’s potential for the light of idea to dispel the darkness, then it’s worth it to me to stay in that dark room and coax the light into it.

I just have to remember who I am and who I was created to be.

Sometimes, all I have to do is screw in the light bulb.
____________________________________

How do you relate to Chabon’s light bulb metaphor?

What’s your greatest challenge in following the creative light?

What is the creative darkness you fear most?

I Like Photos. Let Me Show You It.

The One Where I Lost My Brain

This past weekend, I went oldskool.

I went on a photowalk Saturday night, and I used my “old” (ca. 2001) 35mm camera.

By Amy Nickerson Design. Amy makes me feel NOT old.

The idea first popped into my head when I realized that the digicam’s batteries were dead.

“Oh!” thinks I. “Instead of going to the battery store, I’ll just hop over to Walmart and pick up film for the 35mm! It’d be fun to work with that one again.”

As it turns out, the saga of getting film and then making an extra trip back to Walmart to get a deities-blasted battery for the 35mm was more epic than would’ve been the trip to the battery store. Murphy, you are SO not my fave, dude.

But, in spite of all the trips to The Evil WM Store and in spite of the 100+ºF heat of the summer afternoon, by Saturday evening I finally found myself in Guthrie, Oklahoma, with Amy, Becca, Ryan, Ann, and new acquaintance Kelsey.

We Be-ed Artsy

In case you’re new to the term, a photowalk is a walk on which you go in order to take photos.

Ba-dum ching*.

Amy organized the whole shindig. Kelsey wanted Amy to teach her some new-camera tricks, so Amy invited the rest of us to tag along and be artsy.

So we tagged along and be-ed artsy.

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I can’t yet share any of my photos with you — since they’re on 35mm film and have yet to be developed and all. But Amy gave me the go-ahead to share a few of her shots, which just goes to show what a totally cramazing person she is.

THANK YOU, AMY!

Photos are click-to-embiggen-able.

Becca had the perfect look for this shot. And yes, this is Guthrie, OK. Not Hawaii. I promise (sadly).

Amy caught me taking pictures. Don't know how that happened. ; )

Apron. Tied to a fire escape. WHY IS THE APRON THERE?!? Nobody knows.

This is both sad and fabulous to me.

Becca, Kelsey, and Anne. Chillin'.

The artsiness plus that cramazing fan make this one of my favorite photos of me ever. My photog friends are great for my ego. ; )

Sorry for all the weird frame sizes. I pretend to know what I’m doing with this thing called Com Pewt Errr, but it doesn’t always work out.

Of Skunks, Trespassing, and Dapper Defiance of Death

In-between and all around this awesome artsiness, the following took place:

We wampished** about in alleys,

avoided a weaving sort of fellow in a cowboy hat outside a place called the “Blow Out Club,”

called “here, kitty, kitty” to some animals we belatedly recognized as skunks,

trespassed on private property to take shots on the hood of a fantabulous, ancient, orange Ford truck,

composed an awkward “all-the-girls-grab-each-other” shot,

leapt into the air screaming like banshees,

and ran shrieking toward an oncoming train***.

There were also quite a few that’s-what-she-saids.

That was fun, too. ; )

_______________________

*This is actually listed in Wiktionary. Oh, the times in which we live.

**I picked this word up I don’t know where, but my notes tell me it’s Scottish dialect for “to wave about or flop to and fro.” I am open to correction on this.

***No photographers were harmed in the making of this photowalk.