If It’s April,Then It Must Be the Black Snake

Here it is April already. And the snake is back.

So basically, we’re going to be talking about snakes today. And I wanted to put it right out there for you so you’d know what was coming. Furthermore, if you do not want to see a snake, you should probably click out of this post right now. Although…

The snake tied in remarkably well with my topic over at The Muffin today and I’d hate for you to miss out on some terrific writing tips just because of a snake. But yes, there’s a snake there, too. The post is called “First, You Need a BIG Black Snake (Or How to Grab the Attention of Agents, Editors, and Readers)” so you gotta have a snake. But at least you know the snake’s there. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good, y’all. Although…

BIG black snakes are good to have around. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, back to my original point. Which is BIG black snakes and April. This is the snake that Libs alerted me to the other day:

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You’ll note that this snake is on a walkway of my deck. And though it doesn’t look like much at first, you’ll see that in point of fact, it is a BIG black snake, even if it’s all twisted up.

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(It was stretched out next to the house and I had to disengage it and so it responded by coiling into itself.) But the minute I saw this snake–I was walking on the deck/walkway and talking to Youngest Junior Hall who was telling me about the bear (Yeah, I said bear. What is the world coming to?) that had broken into the golf cart barn where’s he working now–I recognized the snake.

Oh, yes, friends. I knew this snake. In fact, I’d documented this snake right here on the blog. So I went back to find the post where I’d discussed this very same BIG black snake and there it was: “If It’s Wednesday, It Must Be Time to Post.

The snake had nothing to do with that post, except–and this is really what the post, “First You Need a Big Black Snake...”  is all about: every single comment on that year-ago post was about the BIG black snake.

Anyway, as I was proving, you’ll note the date of the first appearance of the snake was April 18, 2018. So clearly, this snake has a nice, comfy home somewhere under and/or around my deck and walkway. And I’ll bet you five bucks right now that in that home, possibly next to the front door, you’ll find a calendar with April circled.

The Cleaning That Never Ends

brush-cleaning-scrubber-45059Do you remember “The Song That Doesn’t End”? DON’T watch it unless you want to hear that song in your head for the rest of the day…

I only mention it because I feel like I could replace “song” with “cleaning” and that would sum up the situation here at Casa de Hall. Specifically, my upstairs office:

This is the cleaning that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. 

I started cleaning it last month not knowing what it was. And I’ll continue cleaning it forever just because…this is the cleaning that never ends. 

And it’s not like your everyday cleaning. Oh, no. It’s my writing life. A great big pile of my writing life. And you know how you like to think you’re a relatively spiritual person, not attached to things in this world? Yeah…when it comes to writing–your words and such–it’s not so easy. Suddenly, you’re a raving egotistical maniac!

Or maybe that’s just me. The point is, suddenly, I’m reading reams of stuff because it’s my stuff. These are my precious, precious words. And even though my brain is screaming, “Cathy! You don’t have time for this!” my eyes are scanning the lines. My stomach is lurching.

Because these may be my precious words but many of these words–TONS OF THESE WORDS–are not good. In point of fact, they’re rather bad. Eventually, I realize that this essay or that manuscript stinks and I give it a toss. But my hands are slow in doing what my brain (and stomach) knew the minute I scanned the first line.

It gives me a whole new perspective on agents and editors who blithely toss my precious words after reading the first line; they’re not invested. It’s easy to toss when you’re not invested.

And so I’ve had to detach in order to get any cleaning done. Asking, “How Important Is It?” has been helpful, too, which you’ll see when you read my post over at The Muffin. My poor little ego has been bruised and battered through this process, but I’m sorta making progress on the upstairs office.

Not a lot of progress, mind you. This is the cleaning that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. 

Ugh.

(Sorry about the song. If it makes you feel any better, it’s stuck in my head, too.)

 

The Upside of Cold Weather

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Yeah, that’s a blanket in my office chair. And I’m wearing a sweatshirt. Also, the space heater is running below AND Libs is squinched up next to me. It’s THAT cold.

 

I know it’s a LOT colder in a lot of places in the world, that people are dealing with blizzards and ice and below-freezing temperatures. And I’m not complaining that it’s been pretty darn cold here in my corner of Georgia; I’m just saying that when it gets cold like this, in GEORGIA, for cryin’ out loud, I don’t go out. Well, I go out but mostly when I need supplies.

So I’ve had a LOT of time indoors since January 1st. And when one spends a LOT of time indoors, one tends to notice the sorts of things one ignores when one is gallivantin’. To wit, cobwebs in the corners, stains on the carpet, junk spilling out of drawers…it’s enough to make one want to brave the cold. But instead, I’ve knuckled down and tossed and scrubbed and vacuumed (with that attachment that reaches the recesses of corners).

And I have to say, all that cleaning has reaped benefits (besides the obvious lack of cobwebs and dust and clutter in the house). When I clean, my brain goes into a different zone and I’ve been finding LOTS of ideas amongst the messiness of my life. I explain it way better over at the Muffin in “Ideas Are All Around You” so I hope you’ll take a look.

I also hope that if you’re somewhere cold and stuck indoors that you have plenty of heat! And after heat, I hope you find lots of ideas while waiting for the thaw. And lastly, I hope you have sense enough to write down all your great ideas.

Because I might’ve found lots of great ideas, but I have no idea where I put ’em.

Becoming Real

IMG_20181107_103920387_BURST000_COVERSo in between the constant robo-calls and the ceiling cracks and the flooding on the floor AND the non-stop barking because ringing phones and working folks in the house call for non-stop Libs patrol, I have managed to come up with something over at the Muffin.

And considering that as I’m typing this post, Libs is cowered behind me, in my office chair, because the YARD MAN IS HERE WITH TOOLS OF DESTRUCTION (leaf blower at the moment), it’s kinda amazing.

Um…just to be clear, the blog post itself is not that amazing. It’s just me, speaking my truth in “This I Know 2.0.” But after I read it this morning, I realized that I’d left out something very important that I know. Which is not too surprising, all things considered (see above).

And so I’m glad I have this spot here to add another truth, to share this I know as well:

That writers appreciate their readers. Not because they need reviews or want people to buy their books, though of course, either of those are nice. And not even because of lovely comments or the occasional thank-you note or email, though those are certainly swell, too. But mostly, writers appreciate readers because…well, I guess it’s sort of like this quote from The Velveteen Rabbit:

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

Readers give writers validation. Readers make us real. And so thank you to all the readers who make me a real writer. Even when my efforts are less than stellar due to extenuating circumstances (see above).

Ghost in the House

black-and-white-blur-close-up-237205I’m pretty sure my house is haunted. And I’m pretty sure I know exactly who is haunting it.

As ghosts go, Mister Man is not so bad. He doesn’t move stuff around or make lights flicker on or off. He doesn’t show up very often, and when he does, he’s pretty subtle. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one who hears him.

So last week, I had a flooding-in-the-basement issue. And sure enough, Mister Man started yelling. “Cathy!” he hollered. “It’s time to move! Find a nice, cozy place, okay?”

But when I told the Junior Halls–any Junior Hall, I’m not picky– that I wanted to get a Tiny House and park it in their backyard because their father was haunting me and wanted me to move, they implied that I was crazy. “Besides,” said practical daughter, “a tiny house can still have problems.”

That’s true, I guess, but in a tiny house, I’d know immediately when they happened. Which brings me to my post over at the Muffin, “October Scare (Or Recognizing the Blessing in Disguise).”

Anyway, the basement’s dry now and Mister Man’s gone quiet on getting me to move. So I’ve got a few financial matters I’ve been putting off and it’s time to sit down at the desk and tackle them.  But first, humor me. Am I the only one hearing that yelling?