Day 9 – I is for Idiosyncrasy

Idiosyncrasy

(noun) a mode of behavior or way of thought peculiar to an individual.

 

 
This word is a bit of a cheat on my part. This month I’ve been trying to pick words that I didn’t know, and this isn’t one of them. I totally know what idiosyncrasy means. Idiosyncrasies are one of my favorite things to think about. Which makes them extremely easy to write about. Which means totally cheating for the sake of an easy article. So, yeah…pretend you didn’t read this paragraph.

I like to call them quirks. Idiosyncrasies are whatever special thing you do that only you do. I like to think that quirks tell us more about people than any other source of information. Sure, you can have someone tell you about their life and what they do and where they were born and so on. But if I see them go around their house turning off all the lights, I’ve learned something deeper about them. If they pick apart a sandwich and eat it out of order, I’m going to know them that much better. Or maybe they always check that everyone has their seatbelt on before they start driving. Those idiosyncrasies stem from experience, and once you figure it out, you know them even better.

For example, some of my personal idiosyncrasies are passed down from my family. The turning off of unused lights is one of mine, courtesy of my British grandmother. My grandma grew up just outside of London during World War 2 and survived the Blitzkrieg bombings. Supplies were scarce then, which turned my grandmother into a very frugal person. You couldn’t waste a resource back then, or else you just didn’t have it. Combined with my grandpa, who had grown up on a farm in the Depression where the only food they had was the food they could grow, Grandma’s house was always an exercise in conservation. As far as the lights go, my grandmother would charge me a nickel for every light I left on when I left a room (alternatively, she gave me a nickel every time I remembered to turn the lights off, so it wasn’t all bad!) Also, my grandparents made me an obsessive plate-cleaner. If there is food on my plate, no matter how full I am, I will force it down. Food was not to be wasted at grandma’s house; Food was a privilege! And since I was a good little girl who always followed all the rules, I ate every single thing on my plate for ever and always. Yay for the development of lifelong habits that may or may not be good for me!

Idiosyncrasies play an important part in my fiction writing as well. They help make a character unique and vibrant. I have one character that obsesses over fancy cloaks, despite living in the wilderness the majority of the time. Another one will tune his guitar as a means to calm himself down. One despises general conversation because it reminds him how out-of-touch he is with the world. And then there’s the one that hates anything around their neck, like necklaces, neckties, etc…

None of these are particularly important to the plot or overall story, but they are vital nonetheless. Without idiosyncrasies, you might as well be playing with cardboard cutouts of Hero Stereotype B and Damsel-in-Distress 11. Quirks and strange habits are what differentiate your characters from anyone else’s and help you get to know your character even better. Real people have idiosyncrasies, why shouldn’t real characters? Plus, readers enjoy them too! I’d like my protagonist with an extra helping of silly quirks, please!

 

So what are some of your personal idiosyncrasies? Do you know any fictional characters whose quirks you have emulated (be it your own characters, or from a book/movie/tv show)? Let me know in the comments so I can gather more of them for my personal quirk vault!

Day 2 – B is for Bellicose

Bellicose 

(adj.) having or showing a ready disposition to fight

 
Bellicose. Like most of the upcoming words-of-the-day, I picked bellicose because 1) I have never heard of it before and 2) it made me think.

I personally know very few bellicose people in my life. I am, most days, an easy-going person and a recovering doormat; so I tend to shy away from people that are looking for a fight. In fact, I really can’t stand real confrontation at all and it makes me break down into really embarrassing girly tears nearly every time, so a bellicose nature would send me running for the hills. 

Since this nature is nearly opposite to my own, the very idea of it lends new meaning to the way I think about the characters that I write. I can honestly say that none of them has even the slightest hint of that trait; they are all variations and mix-ups of me and the people I know. Not that this is bad thing per se, but now I can’t help but wonder what other personality quirks my characters might be missing out on just because I’m an introverted recluse.

 
I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s Saturday morning, and I’d like to be sitting on my couch playing video games and instead I’m thinking about how a random word I found online is changing the cast of characters that I write about on a day-to-day basis. What would a person who is ready to fight all the time be like? How would they live their everyday life? Is it easy for them to make friends? What kind of people would want to be around them? Dang it, I’m missing out on major Saturday Morning Cartoon time thinking about this!
Which I suppose is the point…*sigh* I suppose I can always watch Saturday AFTERNOON Cartoons instead, since they’re all on Netflix anyway.

 

Do you have any bellicose characters in your writings? Or better yet, do you know people like this in real life? Or are you one yourself? Have I deeply offended you by my ignorance and now you want to punch me? (Please don’t.) Let me know in the comments!

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(A note for long-time readers: Please excuse the mess! I accidentally messed up my blog’s theme and formatting, so I’m trying out some new stuff to see if I like it. I realized last night that I didn’t really fix anything, so yeah…it’s kinda broken right now. But I will fix it as soon as I eat my s’mores cereal and watch old reruns of Pokemon!)

Day 1 – A is for Abature

 

Well, well, well…looks like April is upon us already. A promise of spring and all things new. And the looming shadows of my two giant writing projects: 50k words for Camp Nano, and the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

Still, I remain undaunted completely frozen in fear. You would think I would be better prepared, having done NaNoWriMo MULTIPLE TIMES and such…but no, I have been all but running away from my keyboard today. I sat down at 7am this morning and got myself all prepped to write…And here it it, nearly 11:30am, and I’m finally putting words on the screen.
But I’m putting all that fear behind me now, because there’s no use in learning from your failures if you don’t take the risk to fail at all. And basically, I can’t fail with these projects as long as I’m willing to just sit down and write. No one’s judging me on quality here, right? Right?

So bear with me through this month. I’ll do my best to at least keep it real. Without further ado…

Day 1 – A is for Abature

I was going to do something entirely different today. I had lists, story notes, research, help from family and friends, a near-complete topic list…That I promptly decided to scrap literally a minute ago. It just didn’t feel right, whatever that means.

My original topic was going to be all fantasy themed: armor, dragons, classes, etc. But I really didn’t have anything new to say about the topics, other than “Hey, unicorns are pretty cool! Let’s all be wizards, okay?” And for the topics I did have something to say about, it was a much longer article than I wanted. On the A to Z Challenge website, they say to keep your posts short, so that other people can read them quickly and have more time to read more blogs. (It’s really a big social event excuse, now that I think about it.) So writing an essay paper on the function of historical armor versus fantasy flair clothing would not really fall into that category. And so, on a great big ol’ whim, I decided to change my topic.

Plus, I wasn’t sure you lovely peeps want to read a whole month of fantasy nonsense. Sure, I like fantasy and I love to write it, but that doesn’t mean I want to read it everyday…actually, no, wait, I do, but I don’t have a fantasy-themed blog, so it would be unfair to submit all the rest of you to that particular brand of torture. You’re welcome, I think.

So the Official New Theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge will be: Random Words. Yes, I will be picking a random word for each day, hopefully an obscure one so we can all learn something together. I am literally just going to a big list of words and picking one out of the ether, so hopefully it will stay a bit more interesting for both me AND you.

Today’s word: Abature

Noun: (usually plural only) Grass and sprigs beaten or trampled down by a stag passing through them. [Late 16th century.]

I lived in rural Indiana growing up, and hell if I didn’t go down my fair share of abatures. We merely called them deer trails, little paths carved by hooves that always threatened to get you hopelessly lost. My father passed on his love of trail hikes to me, and one of the most infuriating things was thinking you were going the right way on a trail only to end up looped a half mile back and losing the trail in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, deer infrastructure sucks. (Getting into nettles was a serious tie for second most infuriating thing. Tied with ticks. Nature is beautifully gross.)
Now I don’t know if abatures have to only be caused by a stag, or can be caused by any deer, or really what a stag is even (apparently just a really big buck), but I hope I can still call them abatures anyway.

Since this year’s Camp Nano theme is all about cultivating a “Creativity Garden,” I’d like to imagine mine as a hidden forest grotto sort of thing, and the only way to get to it is by running through the Endless Abatures, and you have to backtrack at least three times or else it just doesn’t even show up when you get there.

Bonus points if you get stuck in a deer gridlock on the way.

Happy trails for the weekend, everyone!

 

(A smallish disclaimer: there is a possibility that I am completely misconstruing this word and it just means the ACTUAL grass and whatev’s that the stags step on and not a path, and if so, just pat me on the head and say “yes, dear, whatever you say.” I won’t be offended.)

 

 

Summer Camp and Alphabets

So what are you doing in April? Yes, I know we’re still in March, and it’s probably bad manners to ignore the month you’re in (sorry March), but since I’m a heathen hermit I do what I want!

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Ahem. Yes, April plans. Come, plan with me!

First things first, I am now and forever officially participating in Camp Nano next month. If you are unfamiliar with it, here’s a friendly FAQ link to help you get by, but it’s basically an online writing retreat that doesn’t have mosquitoes or questionable food choices because it’s done in the safety of your own home! (unless your home is full of mosquitoes and questionable food choices and then I am so so sorry.) It has all the benefits of talking with fellow writers in a private setting without all the wild bears and raccoons and wendigos running amok outside! You can make a cabin and invite your fellow writer friends, or join a cabin some cool person already started, or if you like serendipity, be randomly paired up with a group of similar people. It’s very fun and motivating and you can find some really awesome writer-type people! Fun fact: one of my most consistent writing accountability partners is from last year’s camp. Yeah, it’s that awesome.

Speaking of potentially cool people that start cabins, I have started one of my own today! It’s the Morning Larks: a group of daytime writers fighting against the Night Owl Writer Stereotype! Well, not really “fighting,” just banding together to have cool conversations mostly. I started this cabin last year and had a great time meeting new cool people and staying on track with my writing goals, and it was too much fun not to do it again this year.

So if you like this Camp idea, and are interested in a cabin, and also happen to write while the sun shines, AND want a chance to write and talk with me, which is more likely inversed (I’d love to write and chat with YOU more! I’m a lonely hermit y’know), let me know in the comments and I’ll hook ya up!

Also, there happens to be the A-Z Blogging Challenge next month, which I will *gulp* being participating in…the rules for that are right here. To sum it up, during the month of April, bloggers all over the net will be blogging a post every day based on each letter of the alphabet (I can feel my email subscribers dropping off already – sorry in advance! It probably won’t be all crap, I promise!). I am really doing this as a dare to myself. Last summer I dared myself to blog every day and by crikey, I mostly did it and it was great. I do enjoy blogging and sharing my random thoughts with suave strangers online, and the A-Z blogging challenge will force me to to that and make me be a bit more creative about it too.

April is shaping up to be quite the writing month indeed! I am so looking forward to furthering my craft and meeting new people next month!

 

So do you have April plans yet, or are you content to live life one month at a time like a reasonable person? Are you interested in Camp Nano? The A-Z blogging challenge? Eating s’mores around a campfire? Do you want to build a snowman? Let me know in the comments below!

A Bad Start

August has not been kind to me so far. I’ve been full of Adult Responsibilities and cold viruses, and yesterday I officially declared it the Worst Summer Month of 2015. I suppose that’s a little unfair seeing as we’re only six days into it, but I was feeling bitter and my nose wouldn’t stop running no matter how much I promised to smell beautiful things like flowers and dryer sheets and chicken-in-a-biskit crackers if it would only please stop…

But since I consider myself a “that glass is not just half full, but overflowing with distilled party juice” kind of person, I have hope for the rest of this sorry month. I just need to look at the positives:

1. My cold is almost over! Like, for serious! I know I’ve been telling myself that for the whole entire week, but seriously guys, any day now. Tomorrow for sure.

TomorrowForSurememe

2. I’m itching to write. Real real bad. Since my nose has refused to accept my demands, I haven’t been able to look down at my keyboard without causing a biological disaster at my desk, so my Inner Writing Beast is losing his mind. I’ll have to write a freakin’ novel to satiate him, which is the plan anyway, so it should work out.

3. The weather might get cooler. Maybe. I hope. Or our swamp cooler might magically metamorphosize into an air conditioner. That would also be acceptable.

4. Each day brings me closer to September, when I’ll be visiting the good ol’ Midwest for a week. Yay for leaving the house and acting like a real human being!

5. Each day brings me closer to October, which is my favorite month because pumpkins and costumes and scary stuff and autumn.

6. Each day brings me closer to Christmas. (Alright, this is getting out of hand…)

I was trying to get this list all the way to ten, but August, what the hell, man? Why do you offer me nothing? Am I just bitter about being sick and missing out on the beginning of Blaugust and the Booktubeathon? Am I sad about not having a big overarching goal for my life like I did in June and July? Must I force you to be an interesting month in my life?!

*sigh*

I guess August and I have some things to figure out. Hopefully tomorrow will look a little brighter.

TomorrowForSurememe

How is your August going? Full of hope and sunshine and life goals? Or full of germs and malcontent? Let me know and we’ll beat this month into submission together! (I’m so violent today…guess it’s another symptom of my cold…)

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Seriously, that phrase has been in my head all day long. And it’s silly because I don’t even think I’m in the mood for a chicken dinner…but I am in the mood for winning! Camp Nano, that is!

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I’m pretty dang pleased with myself. Not because I wrote 50k (I didn’t) or finished my draft (not even close)…but because I proved to myself that I can do this. I made a doable writing goal for myself. I set up a dedicated writing time and stuck to it for the month. I allowed people to read my baby novel-in-progress. I learned where it was weak and where it was strong. And I found out that it might actually be halfway decent. It might not go to MIT, but I’m pretty sure it can cut it at state college. My little novel, all grown up and having people read it and critique it. *sniff sniff*

I really thought I’d never get this far. I never imagined I’d be so involved in this writing hobby of mine that it would directly affect my life and the way I live it. I never thought I could get up at freakin’ 5:30 in the morning just to write my story down for others to read. Hell, I never thought it would ever be good enough for others to read…I guess what I’m trying to say is just do it. If you have something you really want to create, go for it. Make time for it. Don’t sit around and wait on it to fall in your lap…My only regret in all of this writing business is that I didn’t start doing this sooner.

And now that I’ve gone down the motivational road once again, I suppose I should wrap this up by congratulating all the other Camp Nano winners! I’ve met a bunch of you this month, be it in my cabin, on twitter, or here on good ol’ wordpress. Dang, I almost feel like I’m getting the hang of this social media thing…better knock on wood.

Going into August, expect me to frantically be catching up on my Blogging 201 course that I’ve been filing away for a rainy day. I also promised to post about my second award that was given to me, so that’s incoming. And after that, you’ll probably hear about some of this stuff in random order: novel-writing, beta-readers, characters who don’t do what you want, plotlines that don’t do what you want, my upcoming trip back home a.k.a. let’s find out how a three-year-old handles a flight across the country, my dog’s inability to not be a total spaz, evil diets, treadmill belts, and why my backyard looks like a jungle. It’s been a pretty interesting month and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Until then, have a great weekend, all you lovely faces! Keep on keeping on!

-Christine B.

Still Alive (and making Portal references)

Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you know I’m still alive! Living under a rock maybe, but still alive!

Sorry for the lack of posts. Once again, I find myself only being able to work on one project at a time and the recent project has been Camp Nano. My rewrite of my Nano 2014 project is going swimmingly, with me keeping on pace with my self-imposed 1000 words a day goal. I’m surprising myself by how well I’m doing, and I have this blog to thank for it! If I hadn’t spent so much time here last month and saw so many other amazing people doing crazy inspiring things, then I wouldn’t be where I am today. My only regret is being absent from it for the past ten days…

But no more! I’m going to keep on trucking and try to balance out this writing life piece by piece. Even though I suck at it now, it’s important to me to be able to write on different things at any given time. Even though I couldn’t be happier working on an actual novel (I still can’t believe I can say those words), I have really missed the community here.

Anyone who’s commented, liked, followed me recently: Thank you thank you thank you! Once again, I’m sorry that you caught me in a small blogging slump, but I will be catching up on my notifications this weekend and giving you all a bloggy-style visit! Thanks for being patient with me and my crazy hermit ways.

Have a fan-freakin-tastic weekend!

-Christine B.

And, because I can’t get this out of my head after writing the title, how ’bout a little music for the road?

The End of a Challenge

Well, I did it. I completed my personal 30 Day Blogging Challenge; the pledge to myself and you fine folks to focus on my blog for a month and write an article every day in the month of June. If you’ve been paying attention this month, you may have noticed that there were two days that I failed to post. One was on the first weekend of June, as I am not accustomed to writing on the weekends, and the other took place a week or so ago, as I was burnt out from having family over for a week. Yet, I still consider it a win because here I am. Still writing on this blog. I’ve stuck with it for over two months now and had only two slip-ups in thirty days, which is so much better than I could ever imagine.

I’m so glad that I challenged myself to do this. I’ve learned a ridiculous number of things:

-I will get up early to write and have a better day for it.

-I can pull an article idea from anywhere if I just put forth the effort. (Despite being a boring hermit that never leaves home.)

-I love to connect with other bloggers and writers.

-Writing is something that fulfills me and that I want to pursue for a long time.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I really can do this thing. I can call myself a blogger now. I really care about this blog and all you lovely peeps and I want to keep myself growing and getting to know you all a little bit better. I never thought I could stick with something this long, but yeah! I did!

I thank you all for putting up with me this month and my articles of random and varying qualities. I’m sorry to have flooded your readers/emails with my crazy drivel, and I really appreciate every like and follow. It means so much.

Moving forward, my tentative thought is that I will be posting three times a week. I won’t be posting on the weekends because I’m just too busy with family, but now that I know how fast I can write articles, I think three times a week is a good balance. I need to be working on my book and other projects so that I can continue to grow, so next month will be all about finding the balance between blog-writing and story-writing.

Now I’m off to have some cinnamon rolls and iced coffee in celebration. Again, thanks for being there this month. You guys are the best encouragement I’ve ever had!

Have a great day and happy writing!

-Christine B.

Going to Camp

Now that June is wrapping up, my eyes have been looking forward into the future! And not in some divine seer kind of way, but just thinking about the rest of the summer. Actually, just thinking about July because despite being a grown adult, I can usually only plan things one month in advance…

I am especially excited for next month because of Camp Nano starting up on the 1st. If you don’t know what Camp Nano is, then too bad I don’t feel like explaining it then here’s a quick link of its FAQs page. It’s basically Nanowrimo, in the summer, with a virtual cabin of people, and you make your own word count. If you don’t know what Nanowrimo is, then get out here’s a link to that as well. Sorry, the snark-shark must have bit me in my dreams last night.

I’ve been putting together a list of things that I want/need for the next month of camp-writing. Mainly because it distracts me from the fact that I don’t have a complete outline of it yet, but also because it’s more fun to envision it as an actual day camp in my head. Here’s what I have so far:

1) Cabin and cabinmates

I checked this one off last week, go me! I actually made my own cabin, which required setting it up, posting about it on various sites, and then actually inviting total strangers to join me for a month. My hermit self couldn’t believe it. Be still my introverted heart!

2) A campfire

Although I do have a fire pit in my backyard, the chances of me actually taking my laptop out there during the buggy monsoony month of July to write during a thunderstorm are very slim (just another perk of living in the Southwest). So, I’ve settled on replacements instead. I’m thinking a couple of candles, maybe some decorative twigs to really set the mood… It’s a work in progress. I’ll take pictures when I’m done.

3) S’mores

This was a no-brainer, really. I usually have s’mores ingredients somewhere in the house anyway, because why not? I’m thinking of trying to find some s’mores alternatives too, like S’mores Oreos or something. I even pinned a recipe for a S’more wrapped in cookie dough if I get really ambitious. These are definitely going to be rewards for me meeting my word goal every day and totally not snacks for whenever I’m feeling voracious.

4) Notebook

Because every new project is a good excuse to buy more notebooks. And the regular ol’ spiral-bounds are really cheap right now thanks to school sales or whatever. I don’t care the reason; I just want to buy ten notebooks for a dollar and see  my husband roll his eyes when he sees them.

4) Pens

I desperately need new pens. When I moved here from Indiana, pens were not high on the priority on our packing list, so most of my pens are stuck somewhere in a storage shed 1600 miles away. The pens I do have are fading fast. So pens are a definite must for next month.

5) Inspiration

For inspiration, I turn to pinterest. God, do I love pinterest. The only problem is that it can be a bit of a time-suck if you get off track, but I already have a few boards to be my go-to’s. If you’re interested, here’s my board on general writing things and also a collection of picture prompts.

So how do you get ready for a big project? Do you have any go-to’s that you must have nearby to write? Or do you have any kickass Pinterest boards to share? I’d love to see them in the comments!

Happy Writing!

-Christine B

Guard Your Writing Space

For my 30 Day Challenge this month, I have started writing early. I started out getting up about a half hour before I had to kick my husband out the door for work, but now I naturally get up about an hour to an hour and a half before my actual alarm. I didn’t intentionally do this, nor did I want to get up before 6am; it just happened. I didn’t think much of it at the time, only that it was nice to have so much time to write while the rest of the household was asleep.

During my vacation last week, I was still getting up early and writing, but near the end of it I felt fatigued. I am quite a social hermit and unaccustomed to being around people for so much of my time, and because of this I began turning out old articles that I had written but never published. Basically, I stopped writing. My husband started a new diet this week, so my writing time evolved into a food prep time. I became grumpy and irritable. I started eating everything in sight. My attention span faltered and I found myself wasting hours in a day on simply not knowing what to do with myself. I was a mess.

Midweek, I had a good long talk with a friend and the next day, I got up and started writing again. I finished a blog post before anyone else woke up and hitting that publish button before 8am made me feel on top of the world. I instantly felt like myself again.

Mind you, I’ve only been writing in the morning for almost a month. It’s not like this is a lifetime habit or anything. But apparently it’s become so essential to my well-being that I can’t be myself without it. Crazy, right?

Somehow, in some strange brain space, my mind decided that I needed to write at daybreak. And if I didn’t, if I blew it off and browsed Facebook or watched Youtube Top Ten videos instead, my head wouldn’t function right. It would shut down and make me feel crappy all day long in rebellion.

So guard your writing space. If you don’t have a space or time, make one right now and commit to it. I only found it easier to commit after making a public announcement about it (the 30 Day writing challenge), so do what you need to. And stick with it. If you want to be a writer, if you consider yourself a writer, than write! I have to remind myself of this often. Just write and you will feel so much better, results guaranteed*!

*Results guaranteed by the little writer-ly voices in your head, not by me. I’m just a vessel for my own little writer-ly voices.

Happy Writing!