Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Lesson 1 - You Can Change
The majority of people in this world have everything in common. We have two arms, two legs, two eyes, one nose, ten fingers, and ten toes on two feet and we all poop and pee. We have basic needs – food, water, shelter and air. If you put all of us in one spot naked with no make-up or any other accessories, aside from differences in body mass, varying shades of flesh color, and the size of different body parts we would be similar. If no one had money, prestige, fame or any other symbol of wealth and power, we would be equal.
That’s how we start and that’s how we end. What we do in between defines us as individuals. What keeps the playing field from being level is not what we are but what happens once we arrive in this world – it’s who we are.
Children born in abject poverty have different experiences from those born to wealth. Children born in countries where there is war and upheaval have different experiences from those born in politically and economically stable countries. Children born into loving, happy and nurturing families have different experiences from those born into angry, unhappy and neglectful families. Children born into love have different experiences than those born into fear.
As children we’re at the mercy of our environment. We don’t know better yet. We haven’t developed the skills and instincts to move us beyond our circumstances. We rely on adults to set an example for us and show us the way. We trust them to teach us how to successfully navigate the road of life. Our choices later in life can be permanently affected by the actions of those into whose charge we have been placed.
While we’re children and still trying to develop our skills and instincts, we have every right to blame those on whom we’re relying for help if they don’t provide it. We have every right to call them to task for not fulfilling their responsibilities or for not finding someone else who could discharge those responsibilities and help us realize our potential.
When we become adults and start taking responsibility for ourselves, live on our own, make our own money, and create our own reality and families, the time for blame and finger pointing has ended. Once we enter the world on our own or with our mates we have choices. We can choose to be perpetual victims – to wallow in our shame, sorrow and issues, live in turmoil, repeat the past and create bleak and unsatisfying lives for ourselves and those around us. We can act as if someone is pointing a gun towards our head and forcing us to be miserable. We can be willing participants in our own despair. But we don’t have to.
If the news media covered positive and enlightening stories, every day you could read about those who have decided not to be victims of their circumstances. You could hear and read about people rising above their situations and creating their own success. You would learn of the courage and fortitude of some amazing people who overcame what seemed to be insurmountable odds. These are people who made their own happiness and refused to allow their past or their circumstances to prevent them from achieving their goals.
The point is, once we’re adults we’re no longer victims of our circumstances and environment. We’re victims of our own thoughts and actions – or lack of actions. We’re as good or as bad as we think we are. We’re as happy or as miserable as we believe. We’re a success or a failure depending on our own perception of success.
I’ve read countless books and articles on abandonment issues, intimacy issues, emotional abuse, addiction and whatever else you want to blame your life on. To some extent, they all fit the way I lived my life. I can see myself in every scenario. I was a victim of my circumstances because I chose to be. Choosing to be a victim was extremely painful. When the pain became unbearable I took the steps necessary to find another way - to choose again.
I learned life is a series of choices. Unhappiness and misery are a choice and that’s the choice I made for years. I deserve all the misery I experienced because I chose it. I also deserve all the good and happiness because that was also my choice. I no longer feel sorry for people who have the intellectual capacity but aren’t being proactive in their own situations. I can certainly empathize with them but I don’t sympathize with them.
I could say I wish I’d chosen a different path when I first left home but that would be bullshit. I have no regrets. I did what I did. I am who I am. What I did has made me who I am and I think I’m a good person who is worth knowing – issues and all.
Sometimes we just need a kick in the pants to get us started on the right path. When I was at my lowest point, I called an old friend for sympathy. For a while she listened to my litany of excuses for being miserable, and then she interrupted me and said, “If you’re so unhappy, do something about it. You can change."
Monday, April 28, 2008
What is now Seattle has been inhabited since the end of the last glacial period (c. 8,000 B.C.—10,000 years ago). Archaeological excavations at West Point in Discovery Park, Magnolia, confirm that the Seattle area has been inhabited by humans definitively for at least 4,000 years. Tohl-AHL-too ("herring house") and later hah-AH-poos ("where there are horse clams") at the mouth of the Duwamish River in what is now the Industrial District has been inhabited since the 6th century BC. By the time the first European settlers arrived in the area, the Dkhw'Duw'Absh and Xachua'Bsh people (now called the Duwamish Tribe) occupied at least seventeen villages in the areas around Elliott Bay.
The first Europeans to attempt settlement in the area were the Collins Party, who filed legal claim to land at the mouth of the Duwamish River on September 14, 1851. Thirteen days later, members of the Collins Party were on the way to their claim when they passed the scouts of the group of settlers that would eventually found Seattle, the Denny Party. The scouts for the Denny Party, Terry Lee, David Denny, and John Low, would lay claim to land on Alki Point on September 28, 1851, with Terry Low returning to Portland, Oregon carrying a message from David Denny telling his brother, Arthur Denny, to "Come at once." Following the instructions of David Denny, the rest of the Denny Party set sail from Portland and landed on Alki during a rainstorm on November 13, 1851. The landing party's first sight of their new homestead was the roofless cabin that David had been unable to complete because of a fever.
After spending a winter of frequent rainstorms and high winds on Alki Point, most of the Denny Party moved across Elliott Bay and settled on land where present day Pioneer Square is located and established the village of "Dewamps" or "Duwamps." The only members of the party that did not migrate to the eastern shore of Elliott Bay were Charles Terry and John Low, who remained at the original landing location and established a village they initially called "New York," after Terry's hometown, until April 1853 when they renamed it "Alki," a Chinook word meaning, roughly, by and by or someday. The villages of New York-Alki and Duwamps would compete for dominance in the area for the next few years, but in time Alki was abandoned and its residents moved across the bay to join the rest of the settlers.
When Henry Yesler brought the first steam sawmill to the region, he chose a location on the waterfront where Maynard and Denny's plats met. Thereafter Seattle would dominate the lumber industry.
Henry Yesler's house in the 1870's. Notice the elevated water pipes.
Seattle in its early decades relied on the timber industry, shipping logs (and, later, milled timber) to San Francisco. A climax forest of trees up to 1,000–2,000 years old and towering as high as nearly 400 ft (100 m) covered much of what is now Seattle. Today, none of that size remain anywhere in the world.
The logging town developed rapidly over decades into a small city. Despite being officially founded by the Methodists of the Denny Party, Seattle quickly developed a reputation as a wide-open town, a haven for prostitution, liquor, and gambling. Some attribute this, at least in part, to Maynard.
When Charlie Terry sold out Alki (which, after his departure barely held on as a settlement), he moved to Seattle and began acquiring land. He either owned or partially owned Seattle's first timber ships. He eventually gave a land grant to the University of the Territory of Washington (later University of Washington), and was instrumental in the politics to establish an urban infrastructure.
Real estate records show that nearly all of the city's first 60 businesses were on, or immediately adjacent to, Maynard's plat.
All of this occurred against a background of sometimes rocky relations with the local Native American population, including a nominally pitched battle January 25, 1856.
David Swinson ("Doc") Maynard, one of the village's founders, was the primary advocate for renaming the village to "Seattle" after Chief Sealth (si'áb Si'ahl) of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Doc Maynard's advocacy bore fruit, because when the first plats for village were filed on May 23, 1853, it was for the Town of Seattle. In 1855, nominal legal land settlements were established. Seattle was incorporated as a town 14 January 1865. That charter was voided 18 January 1867, in response to unrest. Seattle was re-incorporated 2 December 1869. At the times of incorporations, the population was approximately 350 and 1,000, respectively.
My Town Monday is the brilliant idea of Travis Erwin. Please visit his blog for links to others who participate in this fun exercise.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Okay. So this probably isn’t what you first thought when you read the title, but I did spell it correctly. I’m getting another pair of my fabulous Sofft shoes. I blogged before about my adoration of this brand of shoes and my nine pairs.
Not long after that I received the offer for a new pair. Call it a loyal customer reward. All I have to do is pick out a pair and let them know my choice. This may sound easy to most of you, but I’m a Libra and I tend to agonize over the stupidest things. Here I am – a woman in shoe heaven. I can choose any pair I want. Aaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!!
I went to their wonderful website to try to narrow down my choices and found several candidates to join my shoe world. However, I have slightly strange feet in that my right one is a 10 and my left one is a 9.5. Normally I buy for the right foot and do sneaky shoe tricks to make the left one fit right. However, 2 of the pairs I selected fall into the sandal category and my tricks would thus be exposed. So I ventured off to the local shoe emporiums to do some trying on.
I ended up with several possibilities and another pair of Sofft shoes. Meet my newest addition: Vivian - This handcrafted peep toe sling is versatile enough to wear for business or pleasure.
Here’s where you all come in. I have narrowed it down to 3 pairs and love them all, so I’m asking you to help me choose by voting for your favorite. Men, please join in. Your opinions are important too. Here are the candidates:
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Hanging out with the old people
There are many of you out there who would argue that I am an old person since my 60th birthday is fast approaching. However, the people in our group on Friday made me look young. The average age was in the low 80’s. Some looked and acted it, but others gave me hope for the future.
It turned out to be a wonderful day. When my co-workers picked me up it was raining so hard we could barely see the road. But this is Western Washington and, as we say, if you don’t like the weather either wait 5 minutes or go 5 miles. By the time we were about 20 miles north of my house, there was no more rain and the roads were dry. It was chilly – in the 40’s – and windy, but we had cloudy blue skies and sunbreaks for the rest of the day. By the afternoon it was almost pleasant outside.
This was the 25th year for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. We concentrated on the 2 largest tulip companies – Roozengarde and Tulip Town. Their fields and gardens are spectacular when the flowers are blooming and they were out in force on Friday. For those who aren’t traveling with 100 seniors, there’s also a wonderful street fair through the center of Mt. Vernon, WA and lots of wonderful places to eat. It runs from April 1st through April 30th each year and is absolutely worth a visit is you’re in the area then.
Friday, April 18, 2008
The company I work for owns 46 retirement communities – many of them in the Puget Sound area. One of my many “other duties as assigned” is to help arrange outings for our residents. Planning for this event began several months ago and the money was paid, so we’re going.
I’m not alone with all these wonderful seniors. There’ll be about 20 staff members with me. Since I work in the corporate office, they don’t trust me alone with their residents and I don’t blame them. I would try my best to corrupt them.
When I woke up and looked out at the gray, rainy day, I was depressed. All the planning and organizing down the drain. Then I said, “To hell with this attitude! We’re going and we’ll have a great time.”
I have 3 cakes in the back of my car, the people at the salmon barbeque are expecting us for lunch, one of the tulip fields has a large covered area and we’ll slog through this with a smile.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend the day out of the office with our residents. They deserve my best and that’s what they’ll get today. I may have pneumonia tomorrow, but today my attitude will be great!
No matter what you do, YOUR attitude determines how it affects you.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
AW, I love the Minnie pic! :*) Hmmm, question. What genre(s) do you write in? Why? What do you do for fun?
being interrupted is my major A-No. 1 pet peeve. it drives me batty. all i do is stew in anger when it happens, so my question to you is: what is a snappy reply to someone who constantly interrupts me?
I’m in the cozy mystery category because that’s what I love to read the most. Since I was a kid, it’s always been my favorite genre.
For fun, play with my friends, garden, read, shop – just about anything that strikes my fancy. I’m pretty easy to amuse.
I’m not patient with rude people. I tend to glare at them until they’re finished interrupting me then say something like, “Do you think you could let me finish my thought before you interrupt me again?” or, “Now that we know your thoughts, do you mind if I finish telling you mine?” You’d be amazed at how many people don’t get it.
Anyone else have better comebacks? We’d all love to know what to say to these a@%holes.
Any other questions?
1) Favorite Christmas ornament and why?
2) Favorite Disney ride? And have you been to DW to ride Mission: Space and/or Soarin' and/or Test Track?
3) Favorite Disney film?
4) Favorite Disney character?
5) What was that about a cult?
6) What are your biggest pet peeves?
Thanks for answering my previous questions. For some reason, I'm in an inquisitive mood lately. :)
1. Favorite Christmas ornament? Yikes! This is really tough. I could probably narrow it down to 25 - maybe. Some of them aren’t that pretty, but they have lots of meaning.
This is an interesting experiment. I may have to pull them all out again and see if I can find an absolute favorite.
2. Favorite Disney ride? A toss up between Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. I don’t like the big roller coasters, but those small ones are great.
I tried Mission:Space once. I got in the car, they shut the door, the capsule narrowed and I started pounding on the door screaming for them to let me out. Seriously! I’m claustrophobic. The a#%hole attendant finally came and let me out and yelled at me for trying to ruin their millions of dollars worth of equipment. Right! Yeah! Like that’s gonna happen with my girlie fists. It was the only time I’ve ever had anyone at Disney be rude to me. But I was so freaked out I just hopped out of the capsule and ran out of the building as fast as possible. Probably won’t be trying that again!
Went on Soarin in December at DW. It was fabulous. Highly recommend it. Never been on Test Track but my Anonymouse Sister probably has. She’s a Disneyholic and lives really close to DW.
3. Favorite Disney movie? Animated – Snow White. Love those 7 little dwarfs. Live action – The Parent Trap – both old and new versions. Hokey but very fun.
4. Favorite Disney character? Can there be any doubt?
5. Cult. What cult? Who said anything about a cult?
6. Biggest pet peeves. People who pop their gum and chew with their mouths open. (Something my mother drilled into me with a laser when I was young.) Second - people who constantly interrupt others when they’re talking and finish other people’s sentences. I don’t have much tolerance for rude people.
Any more questions? Anyone?
I also give excellent advice. Don’t believe me? Just ask me!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I think 1976 was the year I went to DW for the first time. It was in the middle of a snowstorm on the east coast.
Here's my questions:
1.) What is the knarliest chore you've let go while you write?
2.) What do you suggest to look for in considering an on-line class for writing?
3.) In one sentence, what did you learn about yourself when taking this course?
1. I feel a list coming on! Ironing, dusting, vacuuming, mowing the lawn. I haven’t really given them up so much as postponed them. I did the first 3 last week because of company over the weekend and finally called my gardening service to come and do their semi-annual cleaning next Saturday.
The most needed chore right now is just some additional de-cluttering and reorganizing. Occasionally I have to stop and put everything back in order. It helps my concentration and makes me more productive.
2. If you haven’t taken a fundamentals class – do it. It may be a repeat of many things you know, but it’s a great refresher and helps you refocus. If you’ve taken a fundamentals class, decide where you’re weakest and take that class. If you’re not really weak in any area but just need some additional coaching, take a more focused class on writing in your genre.
Look carefully at your instructor’s resume. The one mistake I made was in taking a class with someone who was teaching several classes at the same time – not just for the group from whom I took the class, but for a couple of other groups too. I really don’t think she had the time to give us the kind of feedback we wanted or needed. When questions were asked, she was sometimes rude (and I don’t mean in a constructive way) and it took her a long time to respond or she didn’t respond at all.
That said, the class was still worth it because of all the additional reading assignments.
3. My idea is good and will work, but it’s not going to happen overnight so I need to be patient and not rush through it.
More questions? Anyone?
Ok, remember...you invited us to ask questions...
1) How did your final assignment go?
2) Is your Christmas tree still up? It's too cool.
3) How many times have you been to Disney World (or Disneyland)?
4) Now that the class is done, do you feel you've found a new focus or direction in your fiction writing?
1. I was happy with my final assignment. It was a new first chapter to the book using a different character’s POV. The classmates who critiqued it were very positive. The instructor’s comments made me wonder if she actually read it, but she did have some positive feedback and some useful suggestions of a very general nature.
While I learned a lot during the class, it was mostly from the reading assignments. The instructor provided very little input either in the lecture hall or through the critique process. I would probably take another class through them, but not with this instructor.
2. Regretfully, my tree came down in January and is now resting comfortably in its box beneath the stairs. It’s always a treat when Thanksgiving arrives and the boxes come out of storage. It allows me to relive 40 years of growth in one weekend as the ornaments go up on the tree.
3. DisneyWorld – first time in 1976. 4 or 5 more times since then.
DisneyLand – first time in 1963. At least 10 times since.
4. Interesting question. In a way, yes. It helped clarify the direction I was already heading and proved I have the ability to do it. Finding the time to focus on writing is a challenge. I work full time, am active in my cult, have a house and yard to manage, keep volunteering to help my friends with projects and am just a busy person. However, with the new direction for the manuscript I’m inspired and the ideas are flowing freely for the first time in a while.
Any more questions? Anyone?
I’ve been writing all my life, but nothing publishable. For years my life was so chaotic and unhappy I couldn’t finish anything. I wanted everything to have a happy ending, but since I never had one myself the writing was too hokey and unbelievable.
My family barely knew I existed. The only thing I ever got from them was amazement that I succeeded at anything. Fortunately, I was intelligent and street smart and able to thrive despite their disinterest. As for friends, I’ve always been a loner – never fully trusting anyone. It stems from my childhood. I’m a much better friend now and feel very fortunate to have many wonderful people in my life.
A year and a half ago I sat down and wrote my memoir. It took about a month to come up with 65,000 words. Parts are really good, but it’s not publishable. It was a great way to let go of my past demons and move forward.
Until now, writing has always been a way to release my emotions. That’s one of the reasons I took this class – to find a different focus.
I’ve had more encouragement from this community of bloggers than anyone else and am grateful for the feedback and support.
Any other questions? Anyone?
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Apparently there are way too many things one needs to consider when entering Revisionville and being ruthless is a necessity. Our reading assignment provides some guidelines for the revision process.
Goal: Develop a clear and compelling plot
What to look for:
1. Scenes that are too passive and dialogue scenes with no tension
2. Scenes that don’t build or are anti-climactic
Basically you’re checking that the plot events are in the correct order and each scene builds towards a satisfying climactic payoff.
Goal: Sharpen descriptive passages to make characters, setting and action more vivid.
What to look for:
1. Too much or too little description
2. Clichéd word choices
3. Too many adjectives or adverbs
4. Research information dumps
5. Background or setting information in wrong place
Goal: Elicit character personality through conversation
What to look for:
1. Too many or too few tag lines
2. Tag lines in the wrong place
3. Taglines that contain too much information
4. Information dumps
5. Bland or melodramatic lines
Remove any unnecessary tags. Read it out loud to see if the dialogue sounds natural. Have someone else read it to see if they can distinguish each character’s voice.
Goal: Tighten the pace and continuity
What to look for:
1. Repetition through implication
2. Slow passages
Cut, cut, cut!
Goal: Find and destroy any weaknesses
What to look for:
1. Soft spots
2. Unclear character motivations
3. Actions that seem contrived
Find the problem area and add new scenes or expand old ones to fix anything you’ve missed.
6. Go back to step one and start over again until you’re satisfied.
The final part of our reading assignment is a review of basic grammar and punctuation – 48 pages worth of review. Because this is an important part of writing, I shall summarize these in future posts starting soon with Phrases and Clauses.
Be afraid. Be very afraid!