Monday, October 29, 2012

Writerly Things ~ On Formatting...

Many moons ago, when I was just beginning to make myself a slave to debt, thus necessitating gainful employment with a “day job,” I attended some corporate-type seminar that aspired to help us poor unfortunates make the most of Microsoft Office suite (whatever the hell iteration it was in at the start of this millennium). The fella who led the workshop was a reasonably attractive blond (as opposed to unreasonably attractive), probably in his late 30s/early 40s at the time, and bore the sun-wearied look of an ex-golfer. (You know the type.) (C’mon, you surely do.) (OK, I’ll stop calling you Shirley.)

His instruction style was affably informative and only once did he pierce us with a glare which positively dared us to do stuff like add up figures in Excel using an external calculator, rather than using formulas in the spreadsheet itself, and whatnot. Mostly, he outlined best practices for productivity and provided us with loads of helpful tips which I promptly forgot, excepting one: Write first, format later.

Now, this may be obvious to you, dear readers, but to me it was as though the sky had split wide open and the rays of heaven shone upon the PowerPoint projection, while the soaring harmonies of androgynous angels swelled about us. Write first, format later. By all that’s holy, what brilliance!

If you’re anything like me, you tend to futz with your stuff as you write it, tweaketty-tweak-tweaking every italic, every bit of boldness, every underline, bulleting furiously as you go and then swearing like a sailor (who's on leave at some seedy port and finds himself down to just one condom and no drugstore around for miles) when you can’t rid yourself of the bulleting without reverse formatting everything you’d bulleted before. It’s fun, in a way, to prettify your prose; hell, it’s certainly easier to do that than to create new prose, ain’t it?

And I reckon that’s the problem—we get hung up on what we’ve already written and dither over its comforting existence, rather than boldly moving forward and wrasslin’ with our psyches to wrench every bit of magic out of our heads and onto the screen (or paper; I don’t judge). (Plus, I compose most of my first drafts with pen and notebook, so I’m right there with ya.)

The instructor explained all this and repeated the phrase “Write first, format later,” several times, with such intensity and conviction that it, alone, remained within ready grasp in my memory banks. I find it frequently pops to the forefront of my mind, whether I’m sweating over day-job correspondence and reports, or during the sweeter toil of writing stories and crafting blog posts. It snaps me out of the break in generative flow and helps me to push on and write more, more, more. I’ll admit, though, that when I first implemented this strategy, it made me crazy to know I had to italicize a thing but mustn’t till the first draft was complete. Cra-zee. (OK, crazier than is my wont.) But I got over it. Eventually.

And because I’ve come to believe in this concept with the same fervor as ex-golfer dude, I, too, will repeat it: Write first, format later. You may feel all twitchy and out of sorts the first few times you try it, but keep at it for a bit and you also may be bathed by a celestial spotlight and transported by the strains of cosmic choirs. (Or you may simply dig it, which, though less lofty, is nothing to sneeze at.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spooktoberfest Blog Hop!

Click here to learn more!
Welcome to...

Spooktoberfest!

This blog hop is hosted by Jackie at Bouquet of Books and Dani of Entertaining Interests. The challenge? Compose a 300-word piece of flash fiction in which you use the following five words (singular or plural):
  1. cobweb
  2. cauldron
  3. jack-o-lantern
  4. ghost
  5. razor
There are no restrictions on genre; the tale can be scary, funny, or all romantical-like, so long as it follows the above guidelines. SO, here's my entry. Hope y'all enjoy!


Crocked
by Mina Lobo
(293 Words)

    “Stupid, not-working spell.”

    “Sophia, how can you say that when the happy result sits before you?” Hecate asked, elegantly waving a hand over herself.

    My eyes shot razors at the Witch Goddess. “I wouldn’t say ‘happy.’”

    “Well, if you’re unsatisfied, you’ve only yourself to blame. Perhaps if you’d used an actual cauldron instead of that…that…what was it?”

    “A crock pot.”

    “Yes, that.” The platinum-blonde deity from ancient Greece sniffed her disdain. “Proper technique is the key to successful spell-casting, my dear.”

    “Keep your voice down, unless you want everyone at this Halloween shindig to know who you are,” I snarled.

    “I’ve nothing to hide, nor did I ask to be summoned.”

    “I didn’t summon you, I invoked the ‘Beauty of Hecate.’”

    “And here I am!” Hecate did the hand waving thing again.

    I downed my fourth (fifth?) vodka shot. If only she hadn’t been so gorgeous. The diaphanous gown Hecate wore made her look all Sexy-Ghost-Going-To-A-Very-Adult-Party, whereas my jack-o-lantern ensemble miserably failed to highlight my (dubious) assets. Damn that costume shop clerk; I’d said pumpkin colored, not—

    “Who’s that toothsome terror?”

    I took another shot, then looked. My heart sank. “That’s Troy. The reason I cast the spell.”

    Alerted by some sixth/sex sense, the muscular “werewolf” turned and locked eyes with Hecate, then goggled as she rose sinuously to her feet.

    “Well, sack my walled city,” Hecate purred, beckoning Troy with a crook of her finger.

    “Oh, no…you’re not going to—”

    “—clear the cobwebs from my cave? Oh, yes.” She gave me a lurid wink as the wolf man panted his way over to her. “Leave a torch lit for me, would you?”

    “Woof!” said Troy, proffering an arm.

    “Indeed,” said Hecate, taking it.

    And then they left me there.

    Crocked.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Teaser...

...because I promise (threaten?) to blog on Mondays and Thursdays. So here's a Thursday post but the GOOD STUFF hits TOMORROW, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26!!!!!

No, nothing amazing's happened, more's the pity.

But I gots a fun post ready for the morrow and yes, it does have to wait till then. Hey, dudes—I don't makes the rulez, I just follows 'em.

So please check back with me tomorrow for a wee bit of Halloween fiction.

TTT!

(Toodles Till Then!)

(Yeah, I just made that up.)


Monday, October 22, 2012

The Story Behind “My Last Love Letter”

Picture courtesy of me.
Last Monday, I made your eyes bleed with bad poetry. (Probably.) Today, I’m prepared to satisfy your curiosity as to its origin. But don’t blame me if the triteness of it all either puts you to sleep or makes you hurl. OK, I suppose I’m to blame for the story, but you’re to blame for reading it, after being warned. We clear on this? Good.

A few years ago, I had a thing for a guy. (There's always a guy.) We met online and interacted only in that way. We shared many similar tastes in music, which was a major turn-on for me, and I crushed on him pretty badly. Naturally, all the difficulties of digging someone long-distance only whet my appetite, addicting me to every chat room meet-up, and turning on my inner Emo of Longing for Love. You know how it is. I’m sure you remember from when you indulged your own romantic angst, back when you were, like, a teenager, and whatnot. Most likely, you eschewed that sorta nonsense a looooong time ago. Me, I like to stick with what I know.

Anyway.

My RL (“real life”) friends who knew about this situation encouraged me to declare myself. I resisted, for quite some time. But after nearly a year of wondering (does he/does he not dig me as well?), I reconsidered. Part of me thought that if he felt anything romantic for me, he’d have clearly told me so. The response to that argument, invariably, was that the fella must be shy. Frankly, I think that’s bullshit—in my experience, no matter a dude’s general reticence, he will pursue a person of interest.

BUT ANYWAY.

I figured, maybe my friends were right and at least, either way, I’d know how he felt about things. Right?

So I made him a mix-CD. (Yeah, I know.) Every tune on it was carefully selected to convey my feelings for him. (Yeah, I know.) I think I made a CD liner for it that had a big red heart, with flames surrounding it. (For the love of God, already, I KNOW; quit rolling your eyes at me, sheesh!). And in case that wasn’t obvious enough, I wrote him that poem.

(I’ll wait while you go hurl into the receptacle nearest you.)

(Feel better now?)

(No? Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn ya.)

In the midst of packing for/unpacking from my recent move, I found the notebook in which I’d written the damned thing!!! You’d think it would have the decency to stay hidden, but no.

You may be wondering what the guy in question made of the poem. So am I. He never said. I went as far as e-mailing to ask for some response, any response. I even told him I’d understand if he didn’t see me that way, I just needed an answer. I got bupkis. Which is ironic, really, as the whole point of “putting myself out there” was to obtain some sort of resolution, wasn’t it? But I’ve lived without “closure,” (or him) ever since.

Some folks thought I should be proud of myself for taking such a big risk and making myself vulnerable. Big-frigging-whoop. I’ve got courage coming out my wazoo (divorced single mom here, folks); so what? I knew that about myself, already, I didn’t need to suffer (another) heartbreak to prove it.

What did I take away from this experience?

1. I should always, always, always trust my initial instincts. About everything.
2. Though they definitely mean well, the people who really care about you don’t always know what's best for you.
3. If I ever welcome another into my heart, he has to be at least as brave as I am.

I’m not counting too much on number three, though. Not that I’m bitter, or anything. Ahem.

So there you have it, peeps—the story behind “My Last Love Letter.” Will it really be my last? Time will tell…

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blog Props ~ Random Stream of Consciousness

In a recent post, I invited participants in my Resurrection Blogfest to reach out to me if they wanted a reminder e-mail close to The Big Day, in case they also were sufferers of Momnesia (like me) or its sinister counterpart, Dadnesia. Not too long after that post went live, I received the following e-mail:
*stands up from chair, looking nervous*

"Hi everyone. My name is Wayne and I have Dadnesia"

*everyone* "Hi Wayne."

"It affects almost everything I do. The other day I went to work with one brown shoe and one black shoe on. I'd forget my face if it wasn't stuck to my head. I fear it may control my life soon."

*helpful person in group with a shiny badge that says "I didn't forget for three months!"* "Don't worry Wayne, we can help you."

*everyone else makes positive sounds and says things like "Hang in there buddy."*

"You see I have this really important Blogfest on November the seventh. Mina Lobo might be disappointed if I don't post on time."

*helpful person* "Ah, Mina. She was in here last week. Now she remembers things by tying knots in a dark purple silk 'kerchief."

"I don't have a dark purple silk'kerchief. Woe, woe and thrice woe. I am undone."

"Maybe you should email her to get her to remind you?"

"Sounds great. How will I remember to do that...?"

"Hmm. Have you a 'kerchief?"

"Sadly no."

"Ah. Looks like you're fucked then."

*everyone else shows 'kerchiefs of myriad colours with knots in and murmur things akin to "Yep, fucked." and "Where did this loser come from?"

"You know what, I want my money back."

"Sorry friend, no refunds."

Remind me Mina. Otherwise I am lost.

Folks, I was giggling like Wilma Flintstone on acid after reading, "Woe, woe and thrice woe. I am undone," which doesn't happen often. (Fine—not as often as you'd expect, all right? Sheesh.) Anyway, this brilliant bit of fun came from Wayne Assiratti (OMG, isn't that the freakin' coolest last name?????) of Random Stream of Consciousness.

Click here to feed the frog. (Not a euphemism.)



So, who is this Wayne fella? Well, in response to a previous blog post of mine, Wayne wrote of himself, "I'm a husband and father, rocker and roller, sometimes a right out of controller with a penchant for words, music and a tendency to be over generous (sometimes a fault my wife complains), also I always believe that people are inherently good and circumstances change their behaviour and perspective, that viewpoint can sometimes affect me detrimentally!"  You can learn more about his sordid past and raison de blogging by clicking here.

Wayne explores writing of various types on his blog, from very short fiction to a longer work in progress he's putting up in installments. Here are some more samples of his work, posted here with his kind permission:
Of late, things in town were getting worse and worse. The newcomers had been taking liberties with land, property and now the women. She knew that it was only a matter of time before they got to her. First with honeyed words that after refusal would turn to curses, knives and taking by force. She picked up the gun.
***
An excerpt from the second installment of Reunion
He turned around to see the young man in the bed looking at him. He couldn't have been more than 21. His skin looked like dark satin in the light from the city through the window. Unblinking, the young man said in his thick accent "Again?"

"No. Thank you."

"Then you pay me. I go." He smiled.

"Do you know who I am?"

"Yes." That smile again. "Don't worry. I tell no one." He pulled on his clothes in a way that was almost as pleasing to the eye as the way he took them off earlier. "If I told a news man what I know about the powerful men in this city, I would be dead one hour later."

"Ah. Well, here is your money." said Richard, feeling awkward "You really are quite beautiful you know."

"The young man kissed him on the lips. "So are you. Goodnight Mr Blake. Maybe another time, yes?"

Richard grinned "Next time I'm in Riyadh." Both men smiled at this little game.

"Now go," said Richard, shutting the door. "I really should call my wife."
***

Oh, SNAP! OK, so it's not all fun and games with Mr. Assiratti of the Colossally Cool Surname, but it is entertaining writing which I highly recommend y'all check out (do it, Do It, DO IT NOW!!!). Ahem. You know, when you get a chance...


Monday, October 15, 2012

My Last Love Letter

Photograph courtesy of me, as well.
My Last Love Letter 
by me

Heated thoughts fill my horizon.
In the dark of night,
I cannot sleep for how they roar.

Thoughts of touch,
warm embracing;
fevered flesh
and pulses racing;
sharing breaths
with tongues’ soft lacing—
friendship yearns for something more.

Such notions strike me, unrelenting,
that I scarce know what to do.
For heated thoughts fill my horizon,
and all of these are thoughts of you.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blogfest Reminder!

Click here to sign up!
Y'all, don't forget that my Resurrection Blogfest is coming up on November 7! Sign up to enter a blog post from your first year of blogging (one which didn't get enough TLC or that you think deserves a second look) on November 7, and you may win a gift card for Amazon.com! Click here to learn more and sign up.

Folks who've already signed up—if you suffer from Momnesia, like me (or its evil twin, Dadnesia), and need LOTS of reminders about things, e-mail me at aoorooo (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll send you a reminder about a week in advance of the 'fest. (And I hereby solemnly swear that I will send you only one e-mail to remind you of the blogfest and will NOT use your e-mail for any other purpose.) (I may in future, however, build an e-mail list, which I will invite folks to sign up for, but this is not that time.)

Also, please keep Tweeting and spreading the word—I'm happy to see that 20 folks have signed up and would love to see more bloggers get involved! (Even if you're not participating, you can still help me boost awareness of this blogfest by sharing this post on the social media of your choice. You can do this easily by clicking one of the little icons underneath this post's tag: "Posted by Mina Lobo at 12:00 AM," toward the bottom left of the post. THANKS!)

On the very day of my move (September 30), fellow writer/musician/blogger Laura of Laura + the Voices promoted the blogfest, which I only realized this week, when I had a few moments at work to Google myself (if you'll pardon the expression). That warmed my bitter, shattered heart so much, I wanted to give some love back. So please go check out Laura's blog and, like, follow her, and stuff, 'cause she's le awesome!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Au revoir, appartement...

Still no Interwebs set up at my 'rents' place, so I'm staying late at the office Friday night to prep something for my regular Monday post.

Moving day came and went. 'Twas a longie. I was up at the ungodly hour of 6am to get myself ready for the movers. Stepped outside for a smoke and became mesmerized by the unexpectedly dense white clouds above...



Before the fellas turned up, I snapped one last pic of my nearly naked bedroom...



And living room, where The Kid and I spent most of our time...well...living...


Was done with everything much later in the day and finally sat down to dinner with my parents around 8ish. I was exhausted. If I'd toted any more barge or lifted any more bale, I don't think I'd have survived. As it was, I was so beat, I took to giggling for absolutely no reason at all. Like, a lot. I went to get something out of the trunk of my dad's car and inadvertently set off its alarm. I doubled over laughing as I tried to figure out which button to press to quiet the infernal thing. And every muscle hurt. That evening, I moved with all the ease and grace of a nonagenarian in her ninth month of pregnancy. Which is to say, none at all.

Things are OK. I really shouldn't complain.

But I will.

I miss my own space and not having to worry about pleasing anyone but myself. I miss my privacy. I miss my pretty village street. I miss my teal bedroom walls. But mostly, I miss that sense of independence. The seven years Balthazar and I spent there were the only in which I completely supported myself. (And him, obviously.) I miss these things deeply, with an ache springing from the pit of my stomach. The empty-nest thing really kicked my ass for a couple of weeks, but I was getting over it, you know? I began to delight in my solitude and, dare I say, freedom. Now this...

Le sigh.

These doldrums shall pass, eventually. Unless I die before they do, but you take my point. And maybe someday, I'll have happier personal tales to tell, though I truly wonder...Anyway—for now, there's chocolate. And music in which I can indulge my 80s-based inner Emo...



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