Creative Doldrums

I’m stuck.  Petra, the novel I worked on during November and finished at the beginning of this month, is done.  I’ve revised it for errors, I have a couple people reading it over for me, and for all intents and purposes I’m done with that novel until those people give it back to me with their ideas.

Contrary to feeling jubilant, this leaves me feeling…aimless.  I quit my job (granted, it was my four hour per week job) in order to pursue my dream of getting published.  When Aidan goes down for a nap, I fire up my laptop and stare at the most infuriating sight in the world: an insistent, blinking cursor.

I’ve got nothing!  I came up with a possible novel idea last week, but when I sat down to start it I felt like I couldn’t quit get a handle on my approach to the story.  First person or third person?  Set before or after or during the inciting incident?

Grrrrrrrr.

Everything I started was awful.  Just awful.  So then I started a short story based on another idea I’d had, but I hated that one too.  Suddenly I was feeling less “wannabe novelist” and more “idiotic idea-less person”.

So, I reckon I just need to keep writing, even if I hate every single thing that I come up with right now.  It’s just such a dismal prospect after the ease with which I wrote Petra.  I swear that novel wrote itself.  Everything about it worked for me.

Now I’m in the creative doldrums, which is a horrible place to be.  You know what, though?  Maybe you guys can help me come up with my next idea!

These polls will be open for one week, and then I’ll take the winner of each category and write a brief excerpt of the novel you helped me write and publish it on my blog for you to enjoy.

Thanks for your help!

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The Big Red Robin in the Sky

Wes and I had the very great pleasure of celebrating our 5th anniversary on Friday.  In honor of the occasion, Wes consented to watching one of my very favorite sappy girl movies of all time: Titanic.

In truth, I haven’t watched it since it was out in the theaters.  Watching the movie 13 years later was an interesting experience.  Time and perspective have a way of changing your ability to empathize with characters.

When I was 12, I thought Rose was the most courageous and terrific person.  I thought she had every right to try to escape her nefarious fiance (who seemed really mean to me) and that her choosing to stay on the ship with Jack was wonderfully brave.

Now, I can’t help but view her decisions from the perspective of someone slightly older than her.  When she left her fiance for Jack, I couldn’t help but want to caution her that that might not be the smartest decision ever.  She had no way of knowing that this carefree drifter wouldn’t just dump her after their one-night stand!

How’d she know he wouldn’t just say to her while they were getting dressed, “Yeah, I’ll call you,” and then she’d have ruined an engagement and possibly contracted VD!  There’s nothing romantic about VD.

Also, I would love to know how she would’ve done with being a poor girl.  Living in the upper crust of society may seem like a chore, but I wonder whether she would’ve found working 20 hour days as a laundress more fulfilling?  Also, would she have stayed so entranced with Jack’s carefree drifter lifestyle if she was constantly working to support them while he smoked and drew people in parks?

These considerations nonetheless, I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Time has not diminished the skillful telling of that tale, and I continue to be impressed by the attention to detail and devotion to the subject matter.

I did have a giggly moment at the end of the movie though.  You know how at the end, Rose is all old and she dies in her bed and then returns to the Titanic in the afterlife?  Everyone she knew is there and applauding her, and then she comes up the staircase to meet Jack and they kiss and it’s all so very romantic.

Well, I was wondering what that would translate to in the narrative of my life and realized that in all likelihood I’d probably meet Wes at the Red Robin where we met.  I’d walk in the big brass and glass doors, and everyone would be clapping.  Wes would be standing at the host stand with his back to me, and then he’d turn around and kiss me and the Red Robin bird would flap his wings and we’d all go have clucks and fries or something.

Actually, that sounds pretty awesome.

This Actually Happened

"We taste like chicken!"

I was on the phone with one of my favorite people last night, chatting merrily and cooking dinner when Wes walked through the door after taking the trashcans out to the curb.  I didn’t pay him much attention because of the multitasking already going on, but something caught my eye and I turned to behold something sitting in a bag on my dining room table.

Something….Pale.  And…Fleshy.  And…Oh my sweet cracker sandwiches, are those legs?!

Wes, noticing my regard, whispers, “It’s a rabbit.”

Fighting the urge to vomit (the legs, the twee little legs!) I tell my friend I’m going to have to call her back as there’s a dead bunny sitting on my table.  She takes the news admirably in stride, as she’s awesome like that.

I, on the other hand, can’t bear to look at the thing without my stomach twisting.  I hang up the phone and turn to Wes, asking why on Earth he has a dead rabbit.  He explains that our neighbor (you may remember him as the one I thought was a ghost) just killed the rabbit and wanted to give it to us as a gift.

Now, I’d already known that our neighbors raise rabbits for eating.  Shoot, they make their own beer and wine and grow veggies in their backyard.  They’re cool people.  I just suppose I wasn’t prepared to see a skinned, decapitated rabbit.  I guess I’m just one of those people who needs to prepare for that sort of thing.

It’s the uncanniest thing.  I don’t get squeamish about dead chickens and I handle raw beef and pork with nonchalance.

Bunnies are different, you guys.

So now the rabbit is floating in some brine in our fridge, and our neighbors are going to come over later tonight to help us eat it.  I’ve never eaten rabbit, but I assume it tastes like chicken.  What doesn’t taste like chicken, you know?

I’m just so sad, though.  I so badly wanted to be the kind of girl who can field dress a deer and behold a dead rabbit sitting on her table without batting an eye.  But that’s definitely not me.

I’m more the kind of girl who has to vacuum up spiders with the long extension hose in order to feel properly removed from the carnage.  The kind of person who, if taken deer hunting, would probably miss on purpose.  The kind of lady who feels bad when birds run into her windows and then wonders if that gives them a headache.

In short, I’d never survive on my own in the wild and thank goodness for grocery stores.

An Appeal for Minivan Drivers

This is an appeal for mercy, or maybe just grace, for minivan drivers.  We get a lot of flack, you know.  People hate driving behind minivans.  They assume we’re slow, crazy soccer moms too distracted to drive properly.  Maybe they’re just afraid that the bags of sleep deprivation we hold under our eyes are contagious.  Whatever the reason, it’s a reliable bon mot that people dislike minivan drivers.

I’d like to present a plea for understanding.  I fully admit that minivan drivers are not always the best drivers, but I’d like to temper this admission with the proposal that maybe everyone else on the road isn’t always the best driver either.  And maybe even for less legitimate reasons than minivan drivers.

Because as sexy as minivans are (RAWR), we’re not driving them for their aesthetics.  If you see someone tooling around town in one of these mammoth vehicles, chances are excellent it’s because they have at least one child.

Why does this qualify minivan drivers for special treatment?  Well, in case you’ve never had the pleasure of driving with a child of any age, let me explain just a few of the on-the-road situations the average minivan driver may be experiencing even while you cut them off in traffic:

  • It’s baby’s nap time, and he or she is screaming an unholy banshee wail that is destroying the driver’s eardrums to pitiful mush.  The driver, depending on how far away from home he or she is and therefore how desperate he or she has become, may or may not be trying to sing nursery rhymes, distract baby with toys dangled from an arm painfully extended backward and around, or propel the minivan up a ramp and over the cars separating him or her from a crib for wailing, miserable baby.
  • Car-sick child in the back who is threatening to vomit.  The back windows of a minivan don’t open and, as such, desperate driver is trying to rummage around for a barf receptacle all while trying to avoid running car into a ditch.
  • Houdini child has liberated him or herself from safety restraints and is giving the driver a small heart attack as he or she watches the child cavorting around the backseat.  Driver then has to alternately cajole or threaten child back into car seat while trying to merge through traffic (past people who won’t let him or her into their lane) to look for a safe place to pull over.
  • Driver hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep since…Well, it’s been so long that if you ask him or her a blank look will likely replace any cogent answer.  If you don’t think this merits the driver some understanding, you’ve obviously never been sleep deprived.
  • Siblings in the back seat are fighting/singing obnoxious songs/rubbing muddy feet on their clothes or the seats/annoying the stuffing out of you.  They say that no one knows how to push your buttons quite like your kids.  And they are absolutely right.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that minivan drivers are definitely not the best drivers out there (that honor probably goes to ambulance drivers) but we may have the most legitimate excuse for our poor driving.

So if you see a minivan driver pulling up close behind you, her crazy eyes willing you to merge out of her way because you’re not even going the speed limit, just do her a favor and let her pass.  She’s probably got at least one bodily fluid to clean up when she gets home, and she could probably use a break.

I Thought My Neighbor Was a Ghost

Something absolutely ridiculous happened last night.  So ridiculous that I’m still giggling about it today, which of course means it needs to be documented for posterity.

Last night, Wes and I were chatting in our kitchen.  Aidan was playing on the floor, which for him means slamming toys down on the hardwood floor and hurling them every which way.  I thought I heard a knock at our door, but discounted it as I was sure it was just the sound of Aidan playing.

I heard the knocking again, however, and asked Wes if he heard knocking.  He replied that he’d heard nothing, so I, not even breaking the flow of conversation, went to the front door and opened it, fully expecting to see no one there.

I didn’t see no one.  I saw a ghost.

I screamed.  Bloody murder, someone-just-jumped-out-at-me-from-beneath-a-creepy-staircase kind of scream, and ran away, screaming all the while.  When I came back to my senses, I saw our utterly perplexed neighbor standing at our door while Aidan and Wes just kind of gaped at me from the kitchen.  Of course, this prompted me to dissolve into shrill, hysterical giggles, which did nothing to assuage my neighbor’s certainty that I had, indeed, lost my mind.

You see, our front door has a glass storm door in front of it.  It was dark outside, and brightly lit inside, so when I opened the door the light reflected off the storm door and all I could see outside was my neighbor’s disambiguated face floating outside.  So of course I assumed he was a ghost.

If you could have seen the look on his face though when I opened the door, took one look at him, and ran away screeching…My goodness!  He may never come over again, but I can’t help the fact that ghosts are terrifying!  If you’d seen a ghost outside your house, you would’ve screamed too.

I do wonder what it says about my state of mind that my first thought was that he was a ghost.