Tag Archives: writing

Summer Hiatus


IMG_0481Hi all,

Just a short post to let you know I am taking a blog break over the summer.  I will still be writing, but just not for my blog.  Which is sort of why I’m taking a break.

My day job gets intense in the spring and summer, and I only have so much band width.  One of my goals is to learn to write first and edit later, but I can’t seem to break the “edit as I write” habit with my blog.  I fall into a perfectionist cycle and end up with writers block and a severe aversion to my writing room.  And writing is as important to my sanity as walking in the woods with my dogs, riding my bike, and eating cake.  Sue not writing = Ungood.

To shorten what is certain to quickly become an 800 word very boring dissertation about my life – I need to retrain my brain.  And the only way I can think of to do that is to write with abandon – without worrying about making it sound pretty right out of the gate.  And I haven’t been able to do that with my blog.  I have tried – with varying degrees of success – but I keep going back to my old habits.

I’m going to keep a journal over the summer, and I’m going to practice writing fiction and dabble in some ancestry stuff – I’m thinking a Belgian time traveling German elfin princess astronaut who uses warp speed to sling shot the sun and bring back dinosaurs while fighting off Romulans and Darth Vader, while teaming with StarLord while riding trained raptors.  You know, the usual.

Most of you who read my blog are friends with me on Facebook, so you know where to find me if you feel desperate for a stupid story to laugh about.

See you in the fall,

Sue

PS.  This may be a smokescreen excuse because I really just want to ride my new bike more.

PPS.  You’ll find out for sure this fall.

PPSS.  Unless it’s a warm fall, then you might have to wait until late fall.

PPSSS.  Feel free to eat large amounts of cake to comfort yourself in my absence.

Keep-Calm-and-Eat-Cake

Come In Orson


holdontoyourbutts

It is now the end of my NaNoWriMo experiment. I did not write a novel. I did not write 50000 words. I did not pass Go. I did not collect $200. But I did write almost every day, and I tried to get at least 500 words in when I wrote. I came close enough to this goal to be happy, and to call this experiment a “win”.

As a bonus, I learned a lot about myself and about how I write.   I can tell you are all just dying to know, so in the words of the great Samuel Mo-Fo Jackson: “Hold on to your butts.”

I LIKE TO WRITE.

That seems less monumental now that I see it in print. I mean, “Duh”, right?  But I was getting to the point of dreading my time at the keyboard.  I wanted every line to be perfect and I wanted everyone to believe my writing was perfect and I wanted to fit my square-ass peg in a round-ass hole.  Over thinking and editing every line lead to slow and painful writing, and when I couldn’t keep up with what I thought my imagined pace should be, I wrote less and had less joy doing it.

NaNoWriMo, however, is all about writing without editing.  Just letting the words fly out onto the paper, all willy-nilly and higgley-piggley.  I about had a coronary the first few days.  But then I got into it.  It became fun.  Nothing made sense at first, but I didn’t care.  I was writing, and as I wrote, I found golden nuggets along the way.

My main golden nugget?  Writing is a whole lot more fun when I’m not being such an anal asshole to myself.

MY WRITING STYLE IS MESSY.

I write the same way I clean my house. I make a fantastic mess and then somehow, in between looking at old photos and reading long forgotten sales flyers, I organize it into place again. I also leave cupboard doors open while I am cooking. I don’t know if this is related, but it drives certain people in my life crazy. So if leaving cupboard doors open is a pet peeve of yours, feel free to rant about it in the comments. It won’t change anything, but I know it will make you feel better.

I am much happier and more productive when I make a big writing mess, and then go thru it all later and puzzle it into a single, flowing, beautiful, angelic document of pure bliss and perfection. It is absolutely just as time consuming as my old way of writing one sentence and then editing it to death, but I get to write a lot more and I am editing less. I believe speed and overall better writing will take place over time and if it doesn’t – who cares?  But it will. And you know why? Because of…

PRACTICE

Why am I so old before I am finally understanding the concept of practice and not perfection?

When I was a teenager, my friends and I were Steve Martin fanatics, to the point of purchasing banjos and taking banjo lessons. Serious groupie behavior. However, to play the banjo with the same skill as Steve Martin involves years of dedicated practice. YEARS. And I wanted perfection, and I wanted it yesterday. I still love Steve Martin, but I no longer own a banjo.  I sold it when I realized that I would never dedicate enough time and energy to being that good.  It was a desire, but it wasn’t a dream I was willing to fight that hard for.

Writing has been a similar experience for me – I believed I was supposed to be perfect right out of the gate. Except I wasn’t.  And my writing was all over the place.  And I kept switching my genre.  And writing became a chore.

But this WAS my dream.  And still is.  I refused to give up.  And still do.  I will be in Kristin Lamb’s 5% of 5% of 5%, even if it takes me until I’m 90.  Even if I suck.  Even if no other living human ever reads another word I write, although that would be terribly depressing.

Because my new attitude is practice.  I can’t get better if I’m not writing.  I can’t find open doors and opportunities if I am not actively learning and participating in the writing world.  And I now know that it will always be “practice” and not “perfection.  And I am so very okay with that.  Finally.

THE BLOG

Photography is a lot of fun, but it’s not my first love.  I have time to be either a really good photographer or a really good writer.  I have to pick one and commit (which also relates to genre).

So I am going to stop muddying the waters of my blog, and will be pulling away from photo challenges and instead focusing on humorous posts as they relate to day-to-day living. I will publish every two weeks. On a Monday. With a full elvish moon.  Carved into stone by Wolverine at high tide during the festival of Shirtless Jackman, while Steve Martin plays Foggy Mountain.

THE NOVEL.

I will write one. But not this year. This year, I will be focusing on practice, establishing permanent writing habits, doing a few workshops, reading books about writing – that sort of thing.  Oh yeah and maybe realize my dream of being the next Sue DeGroot.  Who is great, by the way.  In case you missed that.

Of course I will still be biking and hiking and rolling around in the dirt and picking wood ticks off the dogs and eating butt loads of cake, and then coming back here to tell you about it – humorously of course. But I think…I think it will finally all make sense.  At least to me.  You guys are probably screwed.

Writingly yours,

Sue

PS.  Thanksgiving was awesome and pie filled – it’s the one time of year pie is an acceptable alternative over cake.

PPS.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you all gained as much weight as I did.  Because I’m considerate that way.

PSS.  I would like to thank all of you who have inspired me and encouraged me to keep writing.  Some of you know who you are.  Some of you have no idea.  I was going to name names, but chances are I will forget someone significant and then feelings will be hurt and wars will rage and all of mankind will cease to exist.  So instead, here are the letters of all the initials of all of you.  A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.  And the entire Klingon alphabet, just for good measure.


 

Mork Calling Orson


  

My hat’s off to any and all participating in the full 50k word NaNoWriMo.  You are dedicated, hardworking, inspirational…and if I may be so bold and not too horribly offensive…mentally deranged.

I tried one day to hit 1700 words (the average word count needed per day to hit a 50k goal over 30 days) and my last paragraph read something like this:  Because I’m trying to find things to write about to get all my words in so I can stop writing. Ok really don’t need to get all my words in. Need to write for 5 more minutes. This isn’t very fun. Tomorrow I will actually write something resembling a blog post. I had the idea for 50 shades of brown – poop color coded underwear that hide skid marks depending on if you picked the right shade of brown for that day. This idea sounds like a Tommy Halvelford (Parks and Rec) idea. And I think I just spelled his name wrong.

I was supposed to be writing my “story”.  However, I came into this challenge with no characters, no plot, no ideas.  Oh wait – I had one thing – the name of my protagonist.  And you know how I picked out that name?  My name spelled backwards.  Yeah, because that’s the level of skill we are dealing with here:  Bits and pieces of weird and obscure information that randomly pop into my head.

On a side note:  I have noticed lately that I write in puns.  Usually unintended, although I will often notice them when I am editing and may point it out with a “see what I did there?” in case you aren’t Belgian and didn’t notice.  I just re-read my 1700 word travesty and found this: I wonder if I should try fleshing out my character more. Like, make her fat.  Really, Sue?  This is why mommy drinks.

My subsequent writing has been a mix of blog ideas, adding more to my “story”, such as it is, and journaling.  And I am keeping to my original goal of 500 words a day, 15 minutes per day except weekends, where I try to get in an hour so I can do editing on all the garbage I wrote earlier, because I almost had a mental breakdown the first day of writing without editing.  My OCD was on FIRE.

Even taking that into consideration, this has been a very positive experience so far.  Number One – I’m writing every day and Number Two – I’m having fun.  Now, how many of you who read “Number Two” instantly thought of poop?  You are my target audience for “Fifty Shades of Brown”.  If you think I’m not writing that, you are so very wrong.  That shit’s gonna be a best seller. <—- Pun alert for you non-Belgians.

And yes, I realize that if I have to point it out, it’s probably not that funny.  But then again, I think, “What if they miss it?  It’s so funny!  I’m so funny!  Sue is great!” so I always point it out.  WHEN I NOTICE IT.  If you see any I haven’t deliberately noted, please let me know.  You will be given a large reward of Nothing, but you will have bragging rights and I will respond to your comment with “_________ is great.”  allowing you a nanosecond of being greater than the greatest person in the universe:  Me.

Poopingly yours,

Sue

NaNo! NaNo!


This month I am semi-participating in NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month.  This is a writing challenge that spans the month of November, and the goal is to write 50,000 words towards a single work of fiction.

I am going to be a bit of a NaNoWriMo rebel, however. First of all, I don’t write fiction (yet) and second of all, I can’t commit to 50,000 words (yet). However, I do want to establish better writing habits and eventually write an actual book – whether it be a work of fiction or a collection of anecdotes or the Adult Book of Pooping (hey, write what you know).

My main goal in this challenge is to create a new writing habit, which I will achieve by hitting 15,000 words for the month, and committing to writing at least 15 minutes each week day, and an hour each Saturday and Sunday.  And I am publicly signing up via my blog as a way to hold myself accountable – if I tell you about it, I will be more likely to follow through.   Feel free to send encouragement.  And if that doesn’t work, send cake.

One of the other points to NaNoWriMo is to try to write without editing.  To give you an example of how excruciatingly hard this is for me, realize that I retyped this very paragraph 6 times.  Obviously, my inner Mrs. Editor is a raging lunatic.

Getting caught up in editing on-the-go and rewriting the same paragraph twenty times until I get it just right (or just “write”…hahahahhaaaaaaa!  I kill me.) is not conducive to word count or creativity.  I really want to learn to just write without worrying so much about how pretty it sounds. Making it pretty can come AFTER I get the actual idea on paper.

Participating in this challenge means not as many hours watching Parks & Rec on Netflix, lurking on Facebook, or playing Spider Solitaire (I have won using 4 suits.  Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal.).  I feel kind of sad about that, actually.  I mean, this could be an entire month of no Andy Dwyer falling in the pit or Leslie Knope eating waffles.  Dave does a killer Ron Swanson imitation though, and we live with April Ludgate, so I guess I will survive.

Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that’s what’s goin’ down.  On the down low.  Fo shiz.  WERD.  Wait, no – WORD.  Or PAGES if you are on a Mac.

Your favorite dork,

Sue

PS.  Every time I see “NaNoWriMo”, I hear Mork from Ork saying “Nano, Nano” in my head. And yes, that is a little distracting, especially when I am supposed to be writing and not digging around on the internet for Robin Williams photos.

PPS.  Shazbut!

PPSS.  Mork calling Orson.  Come in, Orson!

PPPSS.  I miss Robin Williams.

Mork

One Flying Out Of The Cuckoos Nest


My Christmas gift from my son.  He shares my nerd genes.  Can't wait for this movie!

My Christmas gift from my son. He shares my nerd genes. Can’t wait for this movie!

Our son is moving out.

My first reaction was “Woo Hoo!!”.  My next reaction was “Boo Hoo!”.  (Did you see what I did there?  This is why I am a WRITER, people.)

One would think I would be more happy than sad about this seeing as I have been not-so-subtly dropping hints about it for the past two years.  In fact, as I type this, he is taking a shower while subjecting us to very loud, excruciatingly bad ear pollution (formerly known as “music”) that Lord knows I won’t miss.  But I find myself a little sad too.  It’s kind of the last childhood moment here. My baby is taking flight.

On a side note, I realize I sound just like my mother, who used to tell me how awful my music was.  “THAT’S NOT MUSIC!” she would yell over the Stereophonic screams of the latest and greatest hair band. And then she would make me turn it down.  She was so mean!  It’s a wonder I’m not robbing banks.

And for the record, my music was AWESOME.

I just remembered I also owned a Kenny Rogers album and I sang “Daytime Friends and Nighttime Lovers” with the wrong lyrics because I thought the chorus of  “And shake hands in the light of day…” was actually “And she cans in the light of day…” – as in “canning food” like pickles or tomato juice, which is something my mom used to do so it actually kinda made sense to me.   Shut up.

Okay, fine…maybe not ALL of my music was awesome.  Especially if I was singing it.  But still – 70’s and 80’s compared to now?  Hands down we had better music.

 

 

MOVING ON.

With Matt’s announcement, Dave and I saw a golden opportunity and offered it with fingers crossed. Might he be willing to take the sofa with him?

No, it’s not some gross old horse hair davenport. It’s a mostly perfect 3

-year-old dark brown leather reclining sofa that’s way too nice to live in a beer-swilling, boy-farting environment except for one tragic flaw.

It’s un-nappable.

Somehow, we bought a sofa that cannot be slept on with any degree of comfort.  It’s too short, it has a hump in the middle, and the seats aren’t deep enough for a “whole lotta woman” like me.  And that’s before you add the dogs in the mix.

"You can take the couch but you can't have my blankie!"

“You can take the couch but you can’t have my blankie!”

Of course he said “yes” the Anti-Napper, even though he was one of the biggest complainers about it.  It was free, and at his age, you don’t argue with free.  Unless it’s free furniture on the curb, in which case you don’t ever pick that up unless you also want some free cockroaches.

Fortunately, I am a shopping whiz and found an excellent replacement that is large enough to fit me AND the dogs AND the cats. Aaaannd…maybe a small pony. It also passed my covert, in-store, Sprawled-Out-Butt-Wiggle Test, which I was too embarrassed to perform on the other sofa before we purchased it, and that folks, is how you end up with an Anti-Napper.  Let my experience be your horrible warning.

With this move, we will have a spare bedroom again.  Our recently-moved-home daughter wants his old room (it has a back yard view of cavorting wildlife which is appealing I am sure, although ironically she never opens her shades EVER.) so we are going to move her in there, and then we have to move all the downstairs furniture in her room because we are finishing up the family room in the walkout.

Which led to the idea of making her room my office, and putting a reading nook in the family room where my desk currently resides

My reading nook where next winter I will cuddle on my chaise lounge with fuzzy blankets and mugs of hot coffee and a bookshelf full of books and read trashy novels while watching the birds fight over sunflower seeds.

Or maybe I will just nap.

Oh, and seeing as my office is going upstairs, then I needed a keyboard for my iPad so I can work from the family room in my reading nook (you know – when I’m not napping). And the only logical solution to that was to buy a used Apple USB keyboard from a guy at work and use my wireless keyboard from my iMac on my iPad instead.

Which led to this blog post because I was playing with the two keyboards and needed something to write about.

A little boring, I know. But that’s how life is sometimes. It was better than a sharp stick in the eye, right?

Sue

PS.  Did I mention my son was moving out?  Woo hoo!

PPS.  WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chaaanges


Midnight

Random picture of my cat in clothes for no other reason except it’s funny.

For a variety of reasons, I am changing the direction of my blog.  I originally started with the idea of having a fitness blog, and then it sort of became a cycling blog and then it sort of became an inspirational blog and then it sorta became a humor blog and then it sort of became a photo blog….

This is like the ADD version of a blog.  Probably an example Wordpress could use to show other bloggers what NOT to do.  The weird thing is, I hate change but I find myself doing it all the time.  Jack of all trades, master of none.  I can’t help it – I get bored, I get inspired, I try new things.  Well, except for Dave.  And my family (they are stuck with me).  And my friends (mostly because I happen to be highly entertaining to them, usually on accident.  Meaning I don’t purposely try to be an idiot – it just…happens.)

Anyway, I hope you will bear with me.  I promise not to stray too far from my humor – but I also want to experiment a little more with photography, poetry, shorter posts, different topics, fiction…maybe you will be the first to read the first chapter of my novel.  If I can focus long enough to build my characters, find my plot, write interesting dialogue, and not end up with a zombie love story on crack.  Then again, I may never get that far, and that’s okay too.

If you really like something or if you think something sucks, will you let me know?  It’s a learning process for me, so feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Later,

Sue

PS:  I like the rhyming kind of poetry.  Don’t judge.

PPS.  I changed the appearance of my blog as well.  Just in case you didn’t notice that part.

PSS.  I don’t know if I like it yet.  The appearance.  It might change again so don’t get too attached.

PPSS.  I might write a lot about cake.

Modge Podge Night


Welcome to Modge Podge Night. Which translated means I have a whole bunch of pictures to share with you and a few odds and ends of observation, mostly because I can’t get my head out of my butt this week to write what I really want to.

My weeks just keep getting away from me. I always feel like I have time, but it turns out I never do. I’m beginning to question my commitment to writing. Other writers learn to be disciplined and write come hell or high water, and I’m off in the corner taking sunset pictures and playing with my dogs. Or riding my bike. Or reading a book. Or talking someone off a ledge. Or having someone talk me off a ledge.

Maybe I just have too much to do. Too much I want to do. Too overwhelmed with the rest of the things I supposedly HAVE to do. And frankly, I have no idea how to navigate the waters of becoming a published writer, and the energy needed to learn will take me away from my sunsets and reading and biking.

But I feel like a big, fat loser about it sometimes. Like I’m letting my opportunity slip away, and that every blog post should be filled with paragraphs of poetic prose, dripping from the page like the nectar of the gods, to be lapped up and adored by my minions. I mean, fans.

And actually, I have a little bit of an idea on how to get published. It’s called writing. So I keep doggedly at it, sometimes coming up with a gem and sometimes a dud, but just like running a slow 5k – I’m faster than the guy on the couch.

See? Look – I just talked myself off my own ledge.

On that note – here are my last couple of weeks, in pictures.

Lookin' good, Home Girls!  2014 Night of Triumph

Lookin’ good, Home Girls! 2014 Night of Triumph

Instead of running the Bellin this year, I participated in My Team Triumph’s Night of Triumph the night before, with my friends Dawn, Debbie and Doreen.  This is a mile long run/walk/bike event for differently abled persons.  My friend Joe participated, and his aunt Doo-Doo (Doreen) walked him across the finish line.

What Love Looks Like

What Love Looks Like

We had a surprise visitor on Father’s Day.  Richard the Digger guy, who came to destroy the dirt pile out back.  Probably an odd day to pick, but we weren’t about to turn him away.  As it was, he only got it “mostly” graded before the weather took over.  We are anxiously waiting for him to return and finish the job.  Keeping our fingers crossed it won’t be the Labor Day.

Finally getting the yard graded.  Good bye giant pile of dirt!

Finally getting the yard graded. Good bye giant pile of dirt!

After

After

I think the day before that, we did the Ride for Nature in Door County.  Meg was going to do 25 and Kay and I were going to do 50.  Somehow, we sweet talked Meg, and we all did 42.  Beautiful, well-spent day.

Meg, Kay and yours truly.  Ride for Nature, 2014

Meg, Kay and yours truly. Ride for Nature, 2014

In our daily walks with our freaky four-legged hairy toddlers, we usually have at least one walk on the trail that goes around the neighborhood.  Last Sunday, we ran across this mama snapper trying to lay her eggs in peace.  I remember being surrounded by interns, nurses and doctors during my first birthing experience.  Why should a turtle have it any different?  So I rudely snapped a picture or two while she grumbled about never letting me touch her again.

Back away from the camera, woman!

Back away from the camera, woman!

What part of "Back Away From The Turtle" don't you understand?

What part of “Back Away From The Turtle” don’t you understand?

My last bike ride had me frequently jumping off my seat to snap wild flower pictures.  They turned out pretty cool if I do say so myself.

IMG_2481IMG_2474IMG_2458IMG_2440

This next picture is from Red River County Park.  I liked how the section of tree is falling into the river.

IMG_2457

 

8262 miles to New Zealand.  I'm going to need another bottle of gatorade.

8262 miles to New Zealand. I’m going to need another bottle of gatorade.

After I got home, my husband snagged me into helping him with mowing and weed whacking down by the pond.  I was a virgin weed whacker up to this point, and it took me a while to get the hang of it.  Now I’m an expert weed whacking hoe (pun intended).

Weed whacking in spandex.  Kinky or just weird?  You decide.

Weed whacking in spandex. Kinky or just weird? You decide.

After the whack job.

After the whack job.

Besides the ten billion gnats, mosquitoes, and bay flies, we also have fire flies!  That pretty much makes up for my bug bite covered limbs.  We also have ten billion baby toads running around (this is only a slight exaggeration).  They are fast little buggers and it was hard to get a picture of one, but I managed it.  He’s in the pic below the fire fly – see if you can find him!

IMG_2502

Find the toad!

Find the toad!

And to end – a few more sunset pictures.  Because, well, sunsets.  You know?

IMG_2424IMG_2493IMG_2419

And finally, a picture of Duke, because, like sunsets, the world just can’t get enough.  Well, maybe the world can, but apparently I can’t.

Dookie Guuuuurrrrl!

Dookie Guuuuurrrrl!

See ya –

Sue