And for today’s lesson…

A Challenge
I am presenting a challenge to anyone reading this blog. Actually, it probably breaks down into several challenges, but let’s start with this.

I would like everyone to go out and read George Orwell’s 1984. I want you to read it even if you’ve read it before. I want you to read it even if your high school literature teacher forced you to read it and you hated every moment of it because, well, high school. I want you to read it even though it’s considered an important piece of literature and you never met an important piece of literature you could stand to be in the same room with. Just read it. It’s short. On the surface, it’s easy to read. But, I won’t kid you, it’s a think piece. You’ll come away questioning things. You’ll look at world, both the one in which Orwell lived, and, more importantly, our own, in a different way. It’s not necessarily, in the end, a pleasant experience.

Read it anyway. Then have someone you like to talk to read it. Then discuss it. That part is important. You should absolutely discuss it. Hell, discuss it here. Just do it.

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The Day I Decided to Write

It’s what I am, so why isn’t it what I do?

I consider myself to be many things. I am a person, a woman, a friend, a sister, a colleague, a shower singer, a geek, a slob, a lover of art, a reader, a cat fancier, a poet at heart, a believer, a skeptic, an optimist, a depressive, a disorganized mess (at times), an intuitive thinker, a closet romantic. Really, the list can go on and on.

There are two things, however, that I have always considered myself to be, always, a teacher and a writer.

I am a teacher. It is what I am. It’s what I do and what I’ve done every day of my working life. I could never stop teaching even if I tried, and really, I can’t imagine ever trying. When people ask what I do, I hold my head up proudly and I say without any shadow of doubt, and with more than a little pride, I teach.

Sometimes when people ask me what I do, you know, when I’m not teaching, I say, “I am a writer.” But something strange always happens when I do that. My head that was held so high bends down a bit, and my voice that was so confident in my career gives way to a bit of a stutter, and suddenly the pride gets pushed out by guilt and self-doubt. I’m not lying, I tell myself. I am a writer. I write all the time, every minute of every day. The problem is the words never seem to make it from my head to my fingers.

Please keep on reading!

I Need a Distraction!

All I need is a little noise and a lot of caffeine.

Over the past few months I’ve been trying to find the perfect place to write. Most of the experts say you should have a spot. It doesn’t have to be a great spot or anything, but it should be THE spot. That spot, they advise, is the place for writing, not for eating or relaxing or chatting or playing video games or reading or the million and one things we can find to do when we are supposed to be writing. When you are in that spot you write and that’s that.

It makes sense, right?  If you have a place that is just for writing, when you are in that place you will write.

Thing is, this doesn’t work for me.

Maybe it’s because until recently I had no place to write. I lived in a small, very small, two-bedroom house with a roommate, a cat, a dog and two televisions. Don’t get me wrong. I loved them all, even the televisions, maybe especially the televisions, but they didn’t make for productive writing. So I did what many a space-deprived writer has done. I went to Starbucks.

High on caffeine and distracted by the people I watched pretty damned shamelessly, I wrote. I wrote a lot. And all the time I kept saying to myself, if only I had my own workspace, imagine how much I’d get done. By the way, if you are going to say things to yourself, do it INSIDE your head. I had to change Starbucks twice before I learned that rule.

Then I inherited a three-bedroom condo. Finally, I had the work space I’d always dreamed of. I had a den. My den had a beautiful, old fashion desk with room to spread out. It had shelves on which to put my books. It had a comfy chair in which to sit and read manuscripts that I was revising. It even had drawers full of pens, pencils and paper.

At last there was nothing to stop me. I would spend every minute that I was not at my day job, writing. I would produce novels, short stories, plays and the occasional greeting card.  I would finally work to my true potential.

Thing is, it just didn’t work for me.

I found myself writing less than I ever had and not liking much of what I was writing. I’ve figured it out though. I need distraction. I grew up with noise. I work with noise. I’ve lived in noise almost all my life. When there is no noise, the quiet is overwhelming and I will do anything to make it stop; hang pictures, play games, sing old Beatles tunes. When, however, I am surrounded by noise, I can just ignore it like I’ve always done, and get on with things.

I no longer try to write in my den, which is now just that nice room upstairs with the great desk. I now write on a tv tray in my living room, usually with a cat draped across my arms and often with the television on. I’m getting so much done.

How about you?  What does it take for you to sit down and write?  Do you prefer to be in a quiet space or to have distractions to actively ignore.  Where do write and when?