How Writing Makes You Like an Insane Bird

About two weeks ago, my hubbo awoke to a sporadic knock.  “Do you year that?”

I did. I was up then, thankyouverymuch, and just as rattled by the knocks as he was.

We followed the sound and discovered a robin was repeatedly flying into our sliding glass door on the back patio, the entire pane streaked with droppings and flecks of blood.

Every time we’d step into its view, the bird would fly to a nearby tree; every time we moved away, it returned to its perch on the outer edge of our deck table and, there, it would gather its bearings before it thrust itself into the glass again.  And again. And again.  For about half an hour, until the beagle took an interest and kept watch in front of the door.

Every morning since, the bird has kept at this. We have no idea why. The Internet said robins can be territorial and, if they’ve built a nest in the vicinity and happen to see their reflection in a window, they might think it’s another bird and try to attack it.  But there really aren’t any trees THAT close to the sliding glass door for that to be the case, I don’t think.  And, furthermore, why every morning?  It’s just so strange.

The poor thing is, like, killing itself, peck after peck on the pane. It HAS to hurt.  There’s blood on the window, after all. So why does it keep doing this??  We can only figure that it must be insane.

It occurred to me that this is probably what a lot of what I call “normal” people* think about writers. Why quit your day job—or KEEP your day job, but dedicate all your hours of “down time” (heh) to writing? Facing rejection can practically leave blood stains on your laptop screen as well—and it can definitely take time to recover.

Wouldn’t it be much easier to occupy your time doing something that was stable? Steady? That if you put in the time and dedication it takes, it’s a sure thing? What possesses writers to query again? Revise again? Write again?

I’m not sure I have a good answer for the normal people.  I suppose we seem as cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs as the mama robin who’s pecking herself into brain damage because it’s as important to writers—to me—to keep on going—to make it—to try to make it—as it is for that bird to do whatever the eff she’s trying to do to our door.  She can’t explain it to me because I probably couldn’t understand.

And I think the same thing applies here. It’s not something writers can help.  Call it a mental condition if you want. But as sure as I know that robin’s going to be stippling the end of our deck table with white, black, and red tomorrow morning, I know I’m going to be thinking about my career—my manuscripts—my next speaking engagement—the Write-Brained Network—probably all hours of the night, whether it’s good for me or not.

It’s not that I enjoy the concussions—of course I don’t—but it’s something I can’t control.  It’s how I’m wired, faulty wiring or not.

If you’ve never had the itch to hurl yourself against the hard surface of some kind of cause or vocation, I can’t explain it to you because you won’t get it.  All I can say is, peck peck peck, baby.

*nonwriters

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M.I.A. Much?

I’ve been missing in action a lot lately, because as I mentioned in a previous post, I have been sick and super busy.

But I promise to pick up the slack, and I shall be blogging in the very near future about several things:

  • What I (and Other Writers) Have in Common with a Psychotic Bird
  • Pointers from the Pros—so many good things still to blog from SCBWI Mid-Atlantic, the Virginia Festival of the Book, and even other cons & workshops from the fall as well as the one I attended this weekend, the Southern Kentucky Book Fest/Kentucky Writers Conference
  • The cancellation of two of ABC’s long-running soap operas, All My Children & One Life to Live
  • Operation House Demo
  • Another installment from my “Straight Dope (on Grammar)” series
  • & more!

But but but -- What will "the Looch" do?

Sick

I’m SORRY I have been a bad blogger as of late, but I’m sick. I can’t seem to shake this cold, and every time I *think* I have and venture out my front door or I do a little work, I get slammed with it again.

Boo.

It’s been horrid in terms of getting things done, but I’m realllly hoping I can kick it by next week, because I’ll be attending the Southern Kentucky Book Fest, and it would suck to, ya know, sneeze all over Nicholas Sparks!

I *wish* I were this cute when I was sick!! Yeah---I'm so NOT.

Gone But Not Forgotten TV Shows

I joined a blog fest over at Something Else to Distract Me today, and the topic is gone but not forgotten TV shows.  We’re supposed to list our top five shows that are no longer making new episodes.

This is tough!

#5—Dark Angel

Although I get my Michael Weatherly fix on a fairly regular basis on NCIS, I still miss me some Logan Cale action.  Jessica Alba and Weatherly were a match made in Manticore, and I was so sad at how the series ended—so lame, and so much left unresolved.

#4—The O.C.

As bizarro as season four got, I miss all the Seth Cohenisms.  And although there are O.C.—like shows out there, they’re nothing but sad imitations in my eyes.  It’s nice to see some of the actors pop up from time to time—Benjamin McKenzie is on a show that no one watches, Alex pops up on House reruns (Is she still on it? I’m behind on House), and Summer’s dad is on NCIS from time to time as well as All My Children, which I don’t watch—it’s not enough!

#3—Frasier

One of the best-written shows ever.  That is all.

#2—The Cosby Show

Bill Cosby just makes me smile.  And no matter how many times people on Twitter try to say he’s dead, Heathcliff Huxtable will always be alive in my heart.

#1—Space Ghost Coast to Coast

This one really stings because they’ve been pretty stingy on the DVD releases as well.

You’re welcome:

Change Your Routine, Change Your Writing Style

Two things happened this week that inflamed a writerly itch in me (OK—that doesn’t sound so good, but it’s a good thing—I swear!).

First: Sunday, I attended a meet & greet, where I met (and greeted) a bunch of writers in the Harrisonburg area.  As an icebreaking exercise, we were supposed to write up to 500 words in response to a prompt (the bird).  I ended up writing a short short story that leaned toward—gasp!—suspense.  What??  Completely different from anything I’ve written, well, ever—but it was kind of liberating.

Not that I don’t love YA or plan on changing my genre and writing suspense novels or anything, but it was neat to see what I could come up with in a short amount of time (I did it in about an hour)—and when I’m not the one picking the topic. I got some decent feedback on the piece, too.  Score!

Second: Yesterday, I was forced to break out of my hibernation—there were groceries to be bought, movies to return, shoes to pick up, and a new computer charger to find & purchase.  <—Yeah, that one was pretty important.

So, I’ve been listening to the same few songs lately, and I was looking forward to listening to them again, during all my errand-running.  But when I pulled out my iPod right after I took off, it was dead. Grr.

That was particularly annoying because the ‘burg doesn’t have great radio reception and I don’t yet know the stations very well, but it turned out to be a good thing too.

I flipped around radio stations and heard a lot of songs from my college—and even high school—days.  And, I don’t know about you, but songs almost always take me back to exact places and times, feelings, etc.  Some of the songs I heard (“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, anyone?) yanked memories out of the depths of my brain like a magician pulling a bunch of handkerchiefs through my ear.  (You’re welcome for the visual, bee tee dub).

But these two change-ups in my routine sparked something.  I know it’s not groundbreaking advice, but it’s been a long time since I’ve entertained the idea of a new manuscript (almost a year!), and I’m proof that altering your yoozh can be fodder to your shiny, new ideas because I got a lot of those yesterday.

Anyway, I highly recommend stepping out of that comfort zone.  I know it’s the dead of winter, and it’s nice to wrap up in your robe and settle in to what is comfortable, but if you go out into the cold a bit, you might get some interesting kernels of ideas you never would have gotten!*

*Or frostbite.

Speaking of songs I’ve been listening to over and over (and over) . . .

Stuck in the winter doldrums? Love this song—think the video’s a little creepy**:

**Especially the part where the mom is giving birth and, like, spontaneously combusting.  Nope—not helping me not be afraid of childbirth, Katy Perry!

A Question about Coffee

How much coffee do you drink?  Writers and nonwriters alike can answer—I’m just curious.

I went on a writing retreat with Sara McClung and Cristin Terrill this weekend, and they seem to think I drink a lot!  Which, I know I do . . . but I didn’t really drink that much in front of them, and so now I’m interested to know how much people generally drink.

How many cups a day?  A week?