Monday, July 18, 2011

The Yard

Today was a new experience.

Since we have been broke - until recently at least - we have not been able to take care of our backyard. For the past two months it has sat by itself to mind its own business. When our yard is left alone the grass does not only grow incredibly long, but it has a tendency to sprout up these little cankers called weeds, en mass. I have kept the blinds closed that faced the backyard to blot out the little eye-sore that it has become. What made the sight even worse was the fact that it is butted up against an elementary school with only a chain link fence to divide it from the clean cut green blades on the other side. I could not bare to look upon it since I didn't have the means to deal with the problem.

Then we got a weed whacker. Yes, a weed whacker. Just a week whacker.

I know that it sounds sad going up against a forest (I should note that our yard is not that small) with only an electric weed whacker to combat it, but I made a dent. Yes, I made a dent, and it felt so good. I grinned the whole time I ground away at the weeds and long green blades that had begun to invade our patio. I watched as little brown spiders - and some monster ones - scattered about amongst the ants as green brush sprayed everywhere. That bastard  yard was going down.

There is only one problem with me going after the yard, of course. My Achilles heel, the sun. Yes, the sun. Where most people flip-flop around in the lovely July air (here in California) with bare arms and legs, I must cover up from head to toe with gallons of sunscreen on my delicate skin. Due to my photosensitive condition, I was prevented from continuing my slaying of the green bladed beast until I had killed the last battery for my weed whacker sword. How did I know it was time to stop? The lovely tingling in my forearms and shoulders right through my UV shirt and twenty pounds of sunscreen. Having found a chink in my armor, I put my weapon away and went back inside. I would not be able to continue my onslaught until my energy ran out.

But I will not give up!

Later this week I will continue my assault on the yard once my arms and shoulders have stopped tingling. This is a funny thing to be defeated by the sun and not a spider bite or exhaustion. To think that very few know what a vampire feels like. For now I will stay inside and do house work or my writing while I heal up.

Until next time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Critiquing Using the 5 Things Method

Those of you reading this are probably wondering "What is the 5 things method?" The 5 things method is a method of critiquing that I have developed myself as both a writer and a reader. The purpose of this method is to find 5 things that you like or found that the writer has done well, and 5 things that you didn't like or found that were not done well.

So why would I develop such a method? This explanation goes along with my experience writing. I found it frustrating to read a review of my work in which the person did nothing but give me paragraph long explanations about what I needed to fix or what they didn't find favorable. If something positive was said, than it was a simple footnote, a line, of minute praise. Then there is the opposite when all I would get was praise, but not a note of what needed improvement. This method was developed by me to force myself to never slant myself too far in either direction.

Now, I know that there are limitations and bias that can still be shown by using this method. For example, sometimes a work will be absolutely atrocious (or phenomenal), and it will be difficult to find 5 things on either end to state. This is where the reviewer can get creative. If the writing is bad, find a name or a line of dialogue that you enjoy. If the writing is good, the same goes. Find something that you may not absolutely be in love with, and suggest a change or point it out. 

I know that liking of loving something is only the first stage of critique, so that brings me to the next point. Explain your choices. Even if  your explanation is something like, "It just seems awkward to me," go ahead and put it down. A simple explanation can be better than nothing. Depending on whose work is being critiqued, they may take a second look at what you have said even though it wasn't specific. You would be surprised at what makes people double take.

This method may still seem to be a little underdeveloped, but I can assure you that it works. Not only does it help the other person to improve on their own work, but it also assists you, the reviewer and reader, into spotting things besides grammatical and spelling errors as well as generalizations about plot and character development. When it is harder to fit a specification than you work harder to fill it.

Trust me, try it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Beginning

I have been told I should start a blog, me, mouthy and loud me. So here I am starting a blog. I guess that your first blog should be like the first chapter of a book. Wonderful, exciting, captivating. My life is not, so sorry to those who were expecting that I was published. I am not, consider that confession numero uno. I hope some day to publish my year long (more years long) struggle known as The Infamous Book. No, that is not its title. That is what I call the book when I am irritated with it.

Writing is hard work. True writers will tell you that. There is nothing romantic about sitting in a chair getting fat while you stare at a screen going blind as you type away getting carpal tunnel. What is even less romantic is the things people will say. If you do not have a back bone of titanium, than you will sit in a corner with the wonderful woe-is-mes. It's like banging your own head against the wall while someone is kicking you in the shin. That is the romance of writing. It is not sitting at a table outside at a cafe in Paris/New York/San Francisco and scribbling in a Moleskine(T) notebook. (I do have one, but it is the only thing that can take the abuse that my purse dishes out.) Writing is hair-pulling, depression-giving difficult.

Then why do I do it? I love it! Yes, I am crazy enough to want to be a writer. A novelist to be exact. I have gotten the comments about the uselessness of it all, and rolled eyes, but I still want to do it. I have been through the grind where I had to produce a short story of 3,500 words every two weeks. Trust me, it is so wearing that it makes you realize what you do want to do. It makes you know whether you want to be a writer or not. And I know. Even with the reviews on my latest endeavor being less than stunning, I still trudge forth with my head held high despite my bruised shins and the welt on my forehead.

So where does the military housewife bit come into all of this. I guess it has to do with the fact that next to punching out words on keys worn smooth, I have to do my husband's laundry and prune my fingers with dishwater. Yes, currently I am a housewife, and that is the one thing making me crazy. As the psychotic multitasker that I am, I am also looking for a job.

Welcome to the life of me bashing my head against the wall while sorting lights from darks as I type out my resume with one foot.