P is for Predictable

So … predictable. It can be boring. But it can also feel safe.

Personally, I like predictable – I like having a low-key, safe, boring life with very little surprises. I like a low-drama lifestyle and I’ll take predictable over chaotic any day of the week.

But you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you. See? I’m pretty predictable.

But I found one area that doesn’t welcome predictable – and that’s fiction writing.

(Wow. That was a clumsy segway, but whatever – we’re here, let’s explore it).

Predictable stories do not bother me if the outcome is really the only logical way for the story to end. I mean, happily ever after stories are warm and fuzzy, but I get impatient with them – life doesn’t always end happily ever after.

But being TOO unpredictable can be bad, too. Take the science fiction genre, for example – science fiction just seems so ….. OUT THERE.

(Get it? haha)

I mean, I’ve watched enough Star Trek episodes that somehow end up in left field and leave me rolling my eyes in disgust to know that I don’t care for stories where something suddenly happens at the last minute and with no apparent reason or cause and our hero/heroine somehow comes out of the situation unscathed.

It leaves a funny taste in my mouth and I know the author took the easy way out so he/she could end the story.

But with that said, I like twists. I like being surprised by an element I didn’t see coming.

I like unpredictable stories if they make sense to the overall story.

I saw a link to this article on Twitter, and I swear, I’m going to print this out and paste it somewhere where I can always remind myself of my silent contract between myself and my readers:

  • You won’t bore me.
  • You’ll either take me to places I’ve never been before, or to places that feel as familiar as where I grew up.
  • Love ‘em or hate ‘em, your characters should make an impression on me.
  • And whatever is coming, I don’t want to see it coming. Not all the time, anyway, and not from a long way off.

The article also gives four tips on how to keep things fresh and unpredictable:

(1) Know yourself, be yourself.
This is especially good advice for me because I will read a story, finish it and think, “WOW. If only I could write like that person.” And then I will write a piece of fiction and adopt that author’s voice. Which is fine, I suppose, it adds another level to my writing style, but I’m learning that I do indeed have my own writing personality and that it’s okay to just be me whenever I write. Hopefully someone out there will like it enough to KEEP reading.

(2) Know what you’re really writing, and why.
I definitely need to work on this one. I tend to get a story idea, think it about it for a few days and then POW, I’m off writing. Which is fine, and it’s certainly fun … until I get to about 10,000 words and I’m suddenly facing a blank wall. I have no idea where to go or any motivation to continue and I lose all enthusiasm for the story … until the next story idea comes rolling around. I honestly need to stop, think not only what my story is, but WHY I want to write it and WHAT message I want to give readers overall.

But that requires so much THINKING … (*whine-whine*)

(3) Hold nothing back. No half-measures, no timidity.
I can do this. I delight in torturing my characters. But I definitely need to think more outside the box.

(4) Know your characters.
I also definitely need to work on this one, too. My characters are shells, dried carcass skins discarded and left behind for some small child, or a squeamish female (like me, actually) to happen upon and squeal in terror over. I don’t truly know my characters until I start writing them and then they are CONSTANTLY surprising me and taking me in all sorts of directions I never even knew existed until I started writing. But I LIKE this aspect of writing. I LIKE being surprised when I’m writing. I just need to start looking at it more as a challenge than a nuisance whenever my characters back me, the writer, into a corner.

So writers, be unpredictable – your readers will thank you for it.


I’m participating in the A to Z challenge. Just post something every day with the appropriate letter (except for Sundays), and then submit your link to one of the hosts and don’t forget to visit other participants! Also, you can find other A to Z participants on Twitter via the #atozchallenge hashtag. (This trying to relate the alphabet to your life thing is HARD. It’s taxing my brain and oh look! A puddle of brain mass. Sweet).

O is for Obstinate – Am Not, Are Too

Definition of OBSTINATE
1: perversely adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion
2: not easily subdued, remedied, or removed

Come now, I’m betting you can think of at least ONE person who fits this bill …

I can. And BOY HOWDY, can this woman be obstinate – so much so, that I avoid talking to her at all costs because not only is she obstinate, she doesn’t even make sense in her arguments half the time.

Not to mention, she’s extremely vocal and extremely annoying.

And if there’s anything I can’t stand more, it’s a person who refuses to even entertain the thought that he/she may be wrong.

There’s a time to be stubborn, there’s a time to be confrontational, there may also be a time to be obstinate, but there’s also a time to concede a point and swallow that dose of humility like an adult.

Hey. I’m not saying I can’t be obstinate, in fact, I’ll be the first person to admit that I am probably one of the most obstinate people on this planet, but I also know when I’m wrong and I’m also willing to waver on my point if (and that’s a big IF) the other person can LOGICALLY convince me otherwise.

I don’t respond to emotional outbursts very well. I completely lose self-control if someone gets in my face and starts yelling – the conversation/debate/argument, whatever you want to call it, is OVER for me. Done. Moving on. Follow me, pursue it, at your own risk.

But I’ve learned that there is an art to discussing sensitive topics – it’s called the art of rhetoric. It’s all about ethos, pathos and logos and though there will be people out there that roll their eyes, that are convinced that they are great debaters without knowing these “tricks”, I’m here to say, you’re wrong. It’s all about language, it’s all about finessing that language and using it so that your point gets across without offending someone or putting them on the defensive.

It’s all about tricking (I’m not sure that’s the right word, but I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description of what our politicians do, wouldn’t you?) people into listening to our point of view. It’s all about PERSUADING people into believing what we’re saying is valid and right.

Obstinate people will not listen. Obstinate people are wildly irrational (most times). And I’m telling you right now, it’s a waste of time, energy, and breath trying to “debate” an obstinate personality.

So hear this, obstinate person, I will not debate you because you’ve already made up your mind; you’re not mature enough to listen and/or concede when you are wrong.

And you ARE wrong. So, so wrong.


I’m participating in the A to Z challenge. Just post something every day with the appropriate letter (except for Sundays), and then submit your link to one of the hosts and don’t forget to visit other participants! Also, you can find other A to Z participants on Twitter via the #atozchallenge hashtag. (This trying to relate the alphabet to your life thing is HARD. It’s taxing my brain and oh look! A puddle of brain mass. Sweet).

N is for Netiquette

Definition of NETIQUETTE: etiquette governing communication on the Internet.

Well that seems self-explanatory doesn’t it?

But let’s spell it out for the confused people …

(I found these rules here. Pretty good rules, I’d say).

*Remember the Human

Would you say it to the person’s face?

When you communicate electronically, all you see is a computer screen. You don’t have the opportunity to use facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice to communicate your meaning; words — lonely written words — are all you’ve got. When you’re holding a conversation online — whether it’s an email exchange or a response to a discussion group posting — it’s easy to misinterpret your correspondent’s meaning. And it’s frighteningly easy to forget that your correspondent is a person with feelings more or less like your own.

*Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life

Breaking the law is bad Netiquette

In real life, most people are fairly law-abiding, either by disposition or because we’re afraid of getting caught. In cyberspace, the chances of getting caught sometimes seem slim. And, perhaps because people sometimes forget that there’s a human being on the other side of the computer, some people think that a lower standard of ethics or personal behavior is acceptable in cyberspace.

*Know where you are in cyberspace

Lurk before you leap

When you enter a domain of cyberspace that’s new to you, take a look around. Spend a while listening to the chat or reading the archives. Get a sense of how the people who are already there act. Then go ahead and participate.

*Respect other people’s time and bandwidth

You are not the center of cyberspace

It’s a cliché that people today seem to have less time than ever before, even though (or perhaps because) we sleep less and have more labor-saving devices than our grandparents did. When you send email or post to a discussion group, you’re taking up other people’s time (or hoping to). It’s your responsibility to ensure that the time they spend reading your posting isn’t wasted.

*Make yourself look good online

Know what you’re talking about and make sense: Don’t post flame-bait

You will, however, be judged by the quality of your writing. For most people who choose to communicate online, this is an advantage; if they didn’t enjoy using the written word, they wouldn’t be there. So spelling and grammar do count. Be pleasant and polite. Don’t use offensive language, and don’t be confrontational for the sake of confrontation.

*Share expert knowledge

The strength of cyberspace is in its numbers. The reason asking questions online works is that a lot of knowledgeable people are reading the questions. And if even a few of them offer intelligent answers, the sum total of world knowledge increases. The Internet itself was founded and grew because scientists wanted to share information. Gradually, the rest of us got in on the act.

*Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes

If you do decide to inform someone of a mistake, point it out politely, and preferably by private email rather than in public. Give people the benefit of the doubt; assume they just don’t know any better. And never be arrogant or self-righteous about it.

My personal biggest online advice? Never, ever, EVER write something in anger and then publish it right afterward. Give it (at least) 24 hours before publishing it online. That will give you time to take a breath, read over your thoughts, edit the nasty out of it and if you STILL feel you need to contribute your thoughts to the issue, THEN hit publish.

Remember folks, once it’s on the internet, it’s THERE to stay. Oh sure, you can delete it, but it’s cached somewhere and someone will likely see it at some point. Interact at your own risk.


I’m participating in the A to Z challenge. Just post something every day with the appropriate letter (except for Sundays), and then submit your link to one of the hosts and don’t forget to visit other participants! Also, you can find other A to Z participants on Twitter via the #atozchallenge hashtag. (This trying to relate the alphabet to your life thing is HARD. It’s taxing my brain and oh look! A puddle of brain mass. Sweet).

M is for Moves (NSFW – Unless Your Boss Has a Sense of Humor)

Oh yeah. I just went there.

NEVER say I don’t put myself out there for you people.

Or I will hunt you down and make you watch me dance again.

And just think! This nonsense goes on for a nearly a FULL three minutes!!

I was CLEARLY on a caffeine high.

Or just plain crazy. (Let’s go with that).

(By the way, this sexy song is called “Crazy” by Jem).


I’m participating in the A to Z challenge. Just post something every day with the appropriate letter (except for Sundays), and then submit your link to one of the hosts and don’t forget to visit other participants! Also, you can find other A to Z participants on Twitter via the #atozchallenge hashtag. (This trying to relate the alphabet to your life thing is HARD. It’s taxing my brain and oh look! A puddle of brain mass. Sweet).

L is for (a Mother’s) Love

I’ve been scanning old pictures today (my goal is to digitize all of our photos and videos then store them in a safe deposit box because if something happened to any of these old pictures and videos I’d …………. well, let’s not talk about it).

I posted this picture on Facebook and thought I’d share it with you all, too.

young-parents

This is me and Kevin holding our premature first born son (Dude) in the hospital in late December 1992. He was eight weeks early. No explanation – my water broke and *POOF* he arrived. (Well, it wasn’t that quick or that easy, though he was only 4 lb and 12 oz so it wasn’t really that hard to push him out. I’m sorry, too much information?)

He stayed in the hospital for six weeks because his lungs hadn’t developed. He came home December 28, 1992. He was in the hospital over Christmas – we have a picture of him with Santa.

That was one tough Christmas, let me tell you.

But here we are, eighteen years later and on the verge of graduating from high school in five short weeks. It doesn’t seem possible.

Holding this child in my arms … it’s incredibly hard to explain, not to mention frustrating, especially for a writer, but there is something special and precious about a mother’s love for her child. The emotions, they’re raw, tender, consuming, instinctual, fierce … you absorb all of these new feelings so deeply for this new person YOU HELPED TO CREATE and before long, you don’t know where you end and where your child begins.

Even though my first born and I have had our problems over the years, we’ve had fights, disagreements, connections, shared jokes, laughs … I can’t imagine my life without him or my youngest son. It simply isn’t possible for me to see a life without them in it.

We’ve had quite the journey to where we are now. I’m sad to see him grow up, but at the same time, I can’t wait to see where he goes.

Pass the popcorn won’t you? The next scene in this child’s life is about to begin.

P.S. This was the early 90’s, big bows were IN back then, people. Stop with the snickering. I can hear you. Sheesh.


I’m participating in the A to Z challenge. Just post something every day with the appropriate letter (except for Sundays), and then submit your link to one of the hosts and don’t forget to visit other participants! Also, you can find other A to Z participants on Twitter via the #atozchallenge hashtag. (This trying to relate the alphabet to your life thing is HARD. It’s taxing my brain and oh look! A puddle of brain mass. Sweet).

K is for Karma

You know the saying, “I hope you have a kid JUST like you someday …”

Well thankfully, I don’t.

Wait.

That’s not entirely true – Dude is like me, only a watered-down version of me. For example, he’s stubborn. He’s obstinate. He’s moody. He’s quick to anger. He has a potty mouth when he’s upset. (Which he TOTALLY gets from me. *ahem*). He’s a total geek. He doesn’t have a lot of friends. He doesn’t WANT a lot of friends. He’s a homebody. He’s a thinker. He’s creative, in quiet ways. He can be a jerk sometimes. He can be quite loveable sometimes. He’s smart. He’s aggressive. He’s no nonsense …

Well geez, I guess the kid IS a lot like me. Which probably explains why we butt heads all the time.

Dude and I can’t be in the same room when we’re angry at each other. It gets violent. It’s mostly verbal violence – I say things I regret, he hurts my feelings with some of the things he says to me.

So yeah. My oldest son and I are quite a lot alike, actually. And I guess he’s given me a lot of grief over the years because of that fact. Not NEARLY on the same level as the grief I gave MY parents growing up, but enough for me to say, yeah, karma tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a child a lot like me and oh boy my parents are probably smiling right about now.

But we’re not bad people, Dude and I – we’re just not always easy to be around. (Just ask Kevin). Dude and I are hard people (though I’m way harder and way more obstinate). We’re tough nuts to crack, I guess you could say.

But for all of our disagreements and head butting, I wouldn’t trade the kid for anything in the world. He’s part of me. He’s me, only WAY better.

So though karma tried to kick my butt, I fought back … and won, I think.


I’m participating in the A to Z challenge. You can sign up for the challenge here. Just post something every day with the appropriate letter (except for Sundays), and then submit your link to one of the hosts and don’t forget to visit other participants! Also, you can find other A to Z participants on Twitter via the #atozchallenge hashtag. (Keep your posts short – not more than 500 words – to make it easy on visitors. I think there were about 1100 participants the last time I checked).