Blog burnout.

Boogie Pants isn’t burning me out because I don’t post enough for that to even happen.  That would be a good problem, maybe.

Nope, everybody else’s blogs are burning me out.  There really are too many and they tend to run into each other theme-wise. They have me wondering why I even keep this fellow Boogie Pants alive.  I just read a blog post on rebranding and monetization and sponsors and GOOD GRIEF THAT ALL SOUNDS LIKE A NIGHTMARE.  What do bloggers really want?  Fame? Readers? An income? How many more people can write about healthy cooking, fit pregnancy, DIY and parenting without burning us all out?

Why even keep Boogie Pants alive? It’s aimless and meandering and I hardly ever post anything that I really like.

For example, I wrote a draft yesterday about my nightmare drive during yesterday’s snow event and how my Nokian studded tires kicked ass. I wrote how I faced my fear of driving  on untreated snowy mountain roads  in the dark while it’s still snowing because I had no choice but to pick the girls up from school and get us all home.  Then, when I proofread the post, all I could think was, well, shit, that’s boring. Vermonters do this every day.  They drive in the mountains in the dark in the  snow because they need to get their kids and they do not make a deal of it.

Why should I make a deal of it, then?  I had no answer, so didn’t post because then it all seemed silly and trivial and quite shallow. It would be nice to write material that is somewhat more substantial than how much I love my studded snow tires.

But now, as write THIS post, I’m thinking, well, driving in snow like that was new to me. With some thought, that bit alone could be worth writing about, so for now I’ll leave my snow  driving draft where it is and think about putting it up later.   Seriously, though, why do bloggers blog and as long as I’m asking, why is the word “blog” even a word?

Didn’t finish and pretty happy about it.

Nanowrimo 2013 did not get done! I didn’t finish this year. I quit just before Thanksgiving, and for no reason other than I was boring myself silly.  Time and solitude were on my side more than ever before, with both girls in school and days completely to myself, yet it felt impossible to escape my tired old ideas, characters and plotlines. This nano-apathy started a couple years ago when I realized that every novel I’d written repeated the same theme with the same characters in rotating locations They always had the same problems, same motivations, same adventures, same quirks.  Blah, you know? 

Last December (2012),  I accidentally saved a short article I had written over my completed nano novel and I lost the whole 50K in a second…with a single, thoughtless click.  It was definitely startling.  I expected to be devastated, but I wasn’t, and to lose that body of work was strangely liberating.  To read about it, click here.

What I didn’t like about my novel this year is that even though I didn’t want to write about the same stuff of the past ten years, the same stuff kept trying to be written, and from my vantage point, this stuff was a snore. So, last week, when I hit the 30K point just before our company came for Thanksgiving, I faced a choice.  

Choice #1: I could hunker down, remove myself from much of Thanksgiving, write the last 20K words and cross the finish line in time.  I type really fast and I’m great at generating lots of bullshit very quickly.  I could get it done!

Choice #2:  I could cook, hang out with family that we don’t get see as often as we’d like, enjoy our new house in Vermont, actually READ, learn how to play (and love) Chinese checkers, make fires in our enormous fireplace, and go with the flow. I could quit!

Should I break my streak when I still had the chance to win it?  Why not, you know? It really didn’t take long for me to decide to stroll through that door marked “STOP WRITING.” I closed the document, shut the laptop, poured myself a glass of wine, and relaxed.  

I really DO want to write a novel, just not the kind I’ve written that has helped me win nano for so long. It’s time for me to get out of the nanowrimo rut that I’ve gotten myself into.  Maybe I’m done with nanowrimo for good, or I might simply need a break.  Either way, December is here and I have lots of novels I want to READ and lots of old -fashioned journal writing I need to catch up on.  

We’ll go from there.

 

Starting.

This morning I wrote a beginning.  For years I’ve wanted to explore my college friendships, the ones that began the first day of freshman orientation in 1984 and continue through today.  I started with a scene from freshman orientation at Wooster, with the girls in my campus house sitting in circle being told by our RA that we were now WOMEN and should no longer call ourselves or each other GIRLS.  The term GIRLS, as of that day, no longer applied, we were told, and I remember thinking it very silly because if there ever was a day I felt like a little girl, it was that first day of my life living away from home.  I wrote about my friend, Heather, whose birthday it was, and who shared birthday cake or cupcakes or some kind of treat with a houseful of potential friends.  I wrote how Heather came to college with a collection of brand new monogrammed wooden hangers.  As I always do with nanowrimo, the story becomes autobiographical, at least in the desire, feelings and motivations of my my main character.  It’s my go-to way of generating lots of words in a very short time, but every year I sincerely want to make what I write a little deeper and more developed.  We’ll see what happens.  In the meantime, my prologue starts with a gang of young women (old girls?) meeting on the first day of college.  After that, I’m really not sure, but at least it’s a start, and I desperately needed to start.

It’s back.

Is today really November 1st and the onset of National Novel Writing Month?  Wasn’t it merely a few weeks ago I was sharing the sad tale of erasing my entire 2012 novel just days into December?  No matter.  Novel time is upon us and once again, for the 11th year, I enter into it with no ideas at all. Last year I thought it wasn’t possible to have any less of an idea than I did, but this year I have even less of less of an idea.  Okay, that’s not entirely true. I do have a handful of ideas, but they are skittish and elusive and won’t let me catch them yet.

Still, even without an idea, I CANNOT WAIT TO GET STARTED.

This year’s November will be different for a few reasons, and I’m hoping that I can channel these changes into something that for once is a little different and keeps me excited.

What???? It’s already 1:30 pm and I haven’t started yet. Time to unpack my cans of Whoopass and zap that pesky procrastination fairy that’s hovering over my shoulder.  And by Whoopass, I mean these helpful folks:  MacFreedomWrite or Die. and Stay Focusd..  One alone works just fine, but as a team, they mean business.

Heads up, dog walkers.

One piece of advice I’ve read about blogging is that if a blog is going to succeed and keep readers, it must have a specific purpose and it must be consistent. I definitely believe this to be true and this is something I know I need to work on, but  I have a super hard time doing this. My mind is too much of a crossword puzzle, full of unrelated words or ideas with only a letter or two in common.  I often feel like a real life creative writing class brainstorm assignment that never made it into outline form.

With this post, one thought led to another and I ended up in a rather unexpected place, but I’ll guarantee it’s something we’ve all thought about.

What people do when their dog poops on a walk.

There are three types of dog walkers: those who leave the poop where it falls, those who bag the poop and hold onto it until they can dispose of it properly, and finally, those twisted, considerate(?) folks who bag the poop then leave the bag in the middle of the the sidewalk.

Walking around with a poop-filled bag for most of a long walk is gross.  No matter how airtight the bag is, you’re holding a bag of poop. Gross, right?  It’s bad enough when the poop happens at the beginning of a walk around the neighborhood and there are no public trashcans.  Then there’s the morally conflicting situation when your dog poops twice or thrice but you only brought one bag.

Worst of all is when the bag has a hole in it or something else traumatic occurs because when  I you tied the knot there was still poop at the top of the bag and it got all over my your hand. And maybe this happened blocks from home in a residential neighborhood with no public trashcans or water sources there to assist in clean-up.   Okay, that happened to me. Point is:  I carried the bags all the way home, poop-on-my-hand-be-damned. I am dog-walking citizen #2, the one who carries poop through hell and high waters just to dispose of it properly. Someday I would love to witness someone bagging their doggy deposit and going through the steps of whether or not to leave it at the scene. Do they leave it right there, or do they nonchalantly walk with it for a while until they think no one is watching…then, like a child might casually let a booger fall to their feet next to their desk, they release it to the ground without breaking their stride.

I did have some other ideas for this post, good and serious ones.  Dog poop was very last minute. It came out of left field when I was starting to write about a failed hike the girls and I took with the dog yesterday. Fingers took over the keyboard without my permission, and voila! Dog poop.

On my mind…the heavy and the light.

The heavy: CHF

Late last night we got a call from my sister Beth that she and Mom were at the ER with Dad.  On his birthday.  Turns out that his lingering cough, disorientation, fatigue and lack of appetite all add up to  mild congestive heart failure.  Things are going to be different from now on. I’m still processing all of it, but I’m not surprised at this diagnosis at all.

The light: The Ninja

On a lighter note, a few days ago we bought a Ninja Master Prep and the whole family is in love.  Why doesn’t everyone own one of these?  We have made Cashew Queso, Black Bean Dip, fruit smoothies and green protein shakes.  It’s easy to use, easy to clean and fast as lightning.  Love, love, love, love it. I love it so much I used this phrase, “OMG OMG I LOVE OUR NEW NINJA” in a facebook comment.  At my age, that’s embarrassing, but that is how much I love the Ninja.

The heavy: Home?

We decided back in January that we are ready to leave Ohio and move back to Vermont as soon as we can make it work, which of course might be never.  My job can go on the road, both girls are homeschooling now, and Aaron is working on a flexible arrangement for the upcoming school year.  I don’t know if it will work.  Whenever I have an Athens moment, I wonder if we really want to go as much as we think we dodo.  We live in a wonderful, wonderful town, and leaving, whenever it happens, will be emotional and fraught with doubts.  Still, no matter how hard we try, when we leave our cabin in Vermont at the end of every summer to return to Ohio, it feels increasingly like we are headed in the wrong direction.  Plus, Dad’s got that bad ticker and being a 12 hour drive away from my family has not sat well with me for a while now.

The light: Quitting Camp Nano

Quit?!  I never even started.  About a week ago, when I had a few free moments to get started on an April novel…I had nothing.  Emptiness.  I’m not even bothering.  What really happened to all my novel ideas?  I had them, but they ran away.

 

Cracking the egg.

I’m surprised the mirror image of the word “backspace” hasn’t imprinted itself on my right ring finger.  I skip words and letters all the time.  I spell stuff wrong. I go too fast. I read and reread my sentences, backspace, retype, backspace, retype, and backspace again.  I just deleted the first two sentences of this post.

Distractions.  I love them because they are more entertaining than writing. Oh, wait, there’s a bird at the feeder. My thumb joint is achy and I tell myself I have arthritis. Backspace, backspace, backspace. Why have I taken such a hiatus from meal planning?  I’m turning my family into fridge foragers.  Stop. What a silly sentence.   Go away, Distractions.

I am notorious in my own head for putting off starting a piece of writing. Yet, when I finally get started, there’s always this teeny tiny turning point, like when I first crack an egg. There’s that first tap, the one that yields a hairline opening.  The egg isn’t apart yet, but there’s that barely discernible crack that tells me I have to keep going with my task until what’s inside is outside.

So yes, getting started writing could be compared to the first tap of the eggshell.  And then  things get a little silly and I am now thinking, what a silly post.  Maybe it’s too silly to publish.  Do I scramble or fry the egg?  Or do I add it to my brownie mix? Right now, typing the words “brownie mix” reminded me that I committed to making brownies for a church event tomorrow and we have no brownie mix.   Distractions.

But check this out. I did not even realize that thirty minutes just passed while I was doing this.  I went backspace crazy, wrote a somewhat ridiculous analogy, and got distracted one hundred times, but  I was definitely lost in it, and I loooooove that feeling.