The Writerly Habit

This blog is about my struggles to get into the habit of writing regularly.

Back in Black

So, long time no post. I’ve been recovering from my tooth extraction along with surgery on my feet. I’ve been so depressed lately; it’s been hard for me to pick up my pen. I manage to scratch a few lines here and there but no major work. Once I started missing my 1,000 words a day, it became harder to go back to. I haven’t written a note in a while and that’s depressing me too. I believe that part of my writing comes from the deep mental anguish I often feel. That’s part of the reason I didn’t seek treatment sooner. I thought if I got treated, my creativity would go away along with my depression. Come to find out, I don’t get much done when I’m struggling against my moods and thoughts. I went to my doc today and he doubled the dosage on my meds. Hopefully that helps.

I was going to go to a fiction writing group here in the Springs, but backed out at the last minute. I was supposed to read four stories so I had some feedback ready. Two of them were really bad, one was just plain awful. I wasn't looking forward to going and pretending to be nice. I hate saying that but it's true. Most people don't want to hear the truth about their work, plus I find it hard to tell someone that they suck. It was fine, my father and my friend and I went to Starbucks instead and got some writing done. Plus I returned a book to Borders, the printer left out one hundred pages. Really weird. It’s the Joy Luck Club and I can’t wait to start it. Now I’m sure you are wondering why I went to both Borders and Starbucks. Well, Borders was so busy that there weren’t any tables. Yet, right across the street, the Starbucks was only a third full. I tried a Ginger Tea. It was good except it was made with boiling water and I burned my mouth on it. The thing I like about Borders is that you can get a tea service. They bring you a beautiful clear glass pot of tea along with small tempered glass cups. There’s something truly aesthetically pleasing about the color of tea (green that is); pouring it out in a steady stream and looking through the tea, at how it colors everything.

Anyhow, I hope to get back to my 1,000 words soon. I feel like such a bum for not doing it. Hopefully the meds work and I can get some semblance of order back in my life. I’ve considered quitting my job and working somewhere part time, and then I’d have more time for writing. The way things are going right now though, I wouldn’t get much done. I spend my days half awake, exhausted emotionally and physically. So who’s for running away to Portland (OR that is)? I went to Portland a couple of years ago and I loved it. The sky was so gray, and it would often drizzle lightly throughout the day. That’s my kind of weather, it was similar when I lived in Germany. I tell myself, if I make it big as an author, I will move to Portland. It’d be hard to leave my family though. I don’t worry too much about it though; I have a lot of work to do before that can happen. I hope this finds you all sane and happily writing.

Out for the count

Hey kiddies. It's been a couple of days since I last posted. Things are going really well, both with my fiction writing and my poetry. I ordered some new notecards from Vista Print, ones that reflect my personality a little better. Through my writing, I've been finding myself. Or at least the self I had forgotten. In the last three years, I've gained seventy pounds. I was unhappy with life and used food as a way to fill the void. I've gotten better about that and lost twenty pounds. I started seeing a therapist and writing again. Life has really improved and I'm starting to find the person I buried under all that weight. I forgot all about my love of fashion and all things feminine and beautiful. Very Sarah Jessica Parker. I'm wondering how this will change my writing. There have been definite changes in the subject matter.

I watched Stranger Than Fiction starring Will Ferell. I LOVED it! It's a must see for any writer (and non-writer for that matter). Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, a character who starts hearing his life narrated. The narrator makes an ominous statement about his untimely death. Harold must find the writer and try to stop her from killing him. It also stars the beautiful Maggie Gyllenhaal, one of my favorite actresses (check her out in Secretary and Donnie Darko). Check out the amazon link for clips, images, and a review of the movie.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

I also watched The Devil Wears Prada (go go gadget Netflix account). A movie about a wannabe journalist that gets sucked into the world of fashion. This movie was also fantastic. Meryl Streep has been one of my favorites since She Devil. In The Devil Wears Prada she played a romance novelist who steals Rosanne Barr's husband and pays the price. Oddly enough, it was Meryl Streep's role in that movie that first got me interested in becoming a writer. Check out the trailer here.

In the news, Roger Avary was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter on January 13th. There weren't many specifics as to how the accident happened other than Avary was under the influence. Avary's passenger died and his wife has serious injuries. Avary is most famous for his screenplay Pulp Fiction.

So I'm going to be out for the count for a few days. I had my crown seated today, two fillings, and my lower wisdom teeth extracted. I had to have a stitch in each socket and I'm in a lot of pain. I've taken a few days of work off, so hopefully I'll get lots of writing done. Today is a bit of a wash, I'm just finding it impossible to get anything done. I did get to keep my teeth which was cool! Last time I forgot to ask before I got super numbed up. Not sure what I'm going to do with them. I just wanted them. Here's a pic:

Anyone heard of Arrowgrove School of Erotic Writing?

Has anyone heard of Arrowgrove School of Erotic Writing? They do offer other programs, but this is the one I'm interested in. There are 20 course units, plus you get instructional cds, The Guide to Erotica Markets (is this The Erotic Writer's Market Guide??), and a personal tutor in the field that you send your assignments to. They list specifics on three of their tutors at the present time. Total tuition is $809 (Canadian) if you do the installment plan, $759 if you pay up front. They have a full money back guarantee if you return the materials within 21 days and also if you don't make your tuition back through writing by the end of the course you get a full refund. Sounds too good to be true, but they haven't had any BBB complaints. You'd think if this was a total scam something would be in there right?

They are a dba of Quality of Course in Ontario. I checked them out with the Better Business Bureau and they haven't had any complaints in the last 36 months and are a registered member in good standing. I can't find any reviews of this program online (I've considered taking this program for about two years now). Is it just that unpopular or are people more secretive about the fact that they took an erotic writing course? Speaking of which, I haven't decided if I should use a psuedonym when writing erotica. One article I read stated that you should only use one if you are ashamed of what you are writing. I'm not but then again, wouldn't it put a layer of protection between me and any stalker fans? Right now, I don't haven any fans let alone stalker fans. Good to keep my eye on the future though lol. I'd love to get some opinions on this. I'd just hate to think that no one would know of my accomplishments because I used a fake name. I guess there are pros and cons either way. I could just change my first name so it's not totally obvious. Hmm...

Erotic Photography

So Nick (my fiance) and I went to Borders yesterday. They have really good pretzels that are served warm. Plus I'm totally in love with their white chocolate latte. When they are in stock (lolz) they put white chocolate chunks on top. Delicious.

Anywho, I was in the bargain section when I noticed they had a lot of erotica and sexual instruction books on sale. It was odd to find these in the bargain section. I'm a huge fan of erotica so I bought several books, at a steep discount. The big find was Erotic Photography edited by Maxim Jakubowski and Marilyn Jaye Lewis. It features hundreds of gorgeous black and white nudes. It's very eclectic, ranging from a tasteful nude to fetish type photographs. The collection is well put together and a true feast for the eyes. I might hang some in a cluster in my bedroom/bathroom once I move. I love erotic photography, especially black and white. It isn't for sexual reasons, although at least for me some of the pictures cross the line into pornography. I'm drawn to the aesthetics of it and the shapes. I got it for $5.99, which is sad. It's a wonderful book. Then again, if it wasn't on the bargain shelf I would never have seen. Go go gadget Borders clearance racks.

I finished my thousand words yesterday and wrote a poem. My note went to Natalie Goldberg, author of Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life and Writing Down the Bones. Writing Down the Bones is my favorite of the two. It's a collection of essays about writing and is truly inspiring. It really helps me to reread it when I am feeling down on myself as a writer. It's a definite confidence booster, you realize you don't have to be a brilliant writer to be a great writer. If that makes sense. Definitely a must have for any writer. Besides, it's one cent on Amazon. $3.99 shipping so a total of $4.00, you can't beat that.

Natalie Goldberg

Today I will be writing two notes, one to each of the editors of Erotic Photography. I haven't started my writing for the day yet. I have an ingrown toenail and had to go to the doctor. That was real fun.

Missy Chase Lapine Sues and Other Literary News

Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids Favorite Meals, has sued Jessica Seinfield for copyright and trademark infringement. I talked about this before in an 10/21 posting. It's a David vs. Goliath battle, going up against the Seinfield's. None of us can know what truly happened, but the facts available do seem to support Ms. Lapine's claim. Read the full article here.

In other news, Andrew Morton's book Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography (due out January 15th) has reportedly infuriated Tom Cruise with it's wild claims. A lot of it revolves around Cruise's involvement in scientology. The most bizarre claim is that his child was conceived using sperm from L. Ron Hubbard, the late founder of scientology. Crazy if it's true, maybe even crazier if this book got published and there's no proof to back it up. This reminds me of the issues surround the unauthorized biography of Anna Nicole Smith a few months ago. The book, Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death, contained scathing allegations that Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern were lovers and implicated them in Anna's death. The books author, Rita Cosby, was sued by Stern for libel. Read more about this here. Speaking of lawsuits, Clive Cussler's attempt to get a judgement of $8.5 million by Crusader Entertainment was denied. Cussler claims that they failed to keep their contract with him regarding a screenplay adapted from the book, while they claim he tricked them into purchasing the screenplay based on false sales numbers. Read more here.

I'm a little late covering this other news so forgive me. Priscilla Ceballos publicly apologized for helping her daughter fabricate an essay for a Hannah Montana contest. The six year old daughter's essay falsely claimed that her father had died in Iraq. The fraud was discovered after officials checked the military information they were given. The prize was promptly taken away from the girl and the mother has taken full responsibility. What a horrible thing to do to a child. She had her dreams realized only to have them crushed by her mother's decision to lie. More info here.

Other recent headlines:

Tom Wolfe leaves publisher over money.

Late poet, Robert Frost's, home vandalized by teenage partygoers.

S.L. Rottman

Today I managed to finish my 1000 words, a poem, and my note. I've learned that I really need to get it done in the morning, before I start anything else. Otherwise, getting to the final word count is a slow process. I have to drag it out of me at times. I haven't done any writing besides these free writings. I have started a poem a day exercise. So far I've written two pretty good ones. For me poetry just seems a lot easier to write. It's always been that way. I used to write tons of horrible angst written poetry in my teenage years. I love poetry but I am also afraid of it. You hear that there is no money in writing, but poetry is especially notorious for this. Also, it's very subjective. Some will love it and some will hate it. There doesn't seem to be as much of a middle ground as there is with fiction. Maybe it's just me. I'll post my poems in a few days. I'm so tired now, I can barely think straight.

My note today was to S.L. Rottman, author of the novel Hero (and many other YA novels). She was my English teacher when I was in junior high. She had a group of her students proof read the novel and give feedback before it was published. I was chosen to be a part of this group. I can't remember if it was simply because I volunteered or that I was chosen because of my work in class. I remember feeling very proud to be a part of this group. Her novel was wonderful, the ending made me cry. She had a book signing out here in Colorado Springs a few years back (probably six by now) but I missed her. I wonder if she'll even remember me. This note was a little hard to write, my ego is truly on the line here. My internal editor is telling me that she won't know who I am, or will wonder exactly how much she could've inspired me as I haven't published a thing yet. It took me a while yes, but I'm out here doing it now. It's one thing to put yourself out there for a total stranger, quite another to do such for someone who knows you. We'll see how it goes.

S.L. Rottman

Tori Amos

Tori Amos in concert, American Doll Posse tour

Well, I finished my 1,000 words for the day so I'm getting ready to write my next note. Today I'm writing Tori Amos. I know, she's a musician so not exactly what you were expecting. But have you ever heard one of her songs? The lyrics are pure poetry. She's one of the main artists I listen to when I'm writing. Here are a few of my favorites:

Blood Roses

Blood roses ,Blood roses
Back on the street now
Blood roses,Blood roses
Back on the street now
Can't forget the things you never said
On days like these starts me thinking
When chickens get a taste of your meat girl
Chickens get a taste of your meat yes

You gave him you blood
And your warm little diamond
He likes killing you after you're dead
You think I'm a queer
I think you're a queer
Said I think you're a queer
I think you're a queer
I shaved every place where you been boy
I said I shaved every place where you been yes

God knows I know
I've thrown away those graces
God knows I've thrown away
Those graces
God knows I know
I've thrown away those graces

The Belle of New Orleans tried to show me
Once how to tango
Wrapped around you feet
Wrapped around like good little roses

Blood Roses, Blood Roses
Back on the street now
Blood Roses, Blood Roses
Back on the street now
Now, Now
Now you've cut out the flute
From the throat of the loon
At least when you cry now
He can't even hear you
When chickens get a taste of your meat girl
Come on, Come on, Come on
Come on, Come on, Come on
Come on, Come on, Come on
When he sucks you deep
Sometimes you're nothing but meat


Don't say morning's come
Don't say it's up to me
If I could take twenty five minutes
Out of the record books
Sugar, he brings me Sugar

Bobby's collecting bees
And hammers, he used one on me
Cold war with little boys
Get in with a bubble gum trade and

Sugar, bring me Sugar
And all the robins bring, bring me many things but
Sugar, he brings me Sugar
As far as I can tell
I've been gone for miles now

You know, and I know I don't know me very well
And I know, and you know if they found me out
Sugar, he brings me Sugar
I know the robins bring, they bring me many things
But Sugar, he brings me Sugar

Caught a Lite Sneeze

Caught a lite sneeze,
Caught a lite breathe,
Caught a light weight lightning seed.
Boys on my left side,
Boys on my right side,
Boys in the middle,
And you're not here.
I need a big loan,
From the girl zone.

Building, tumbling down.
Didn't know our love was so small;
Couldn't stand at all.
Mr. St. John just bring your son

The spire is hot,
And my cells can't feed,
And you still got that Belle dragging your foots.
I'm hiding it well Sister Ernestine
But I still got that Belle
Dragging my foots.

Right on time you get closer and closer
Called my name but there's no way in
Use that fame
Rent you wife and kids today
Maybe she will
Maybe she will
Caught a lite sneeze
Dreamed a little dream
Made my own pretty hate machine
Boys on my left side
Boys on my right side
Boys in the middle and you're not here
Boys in their dresses
And you're not here
I need a big loan from the girl zone

I know, they're a bit messy. I wasn't about to type them all in so I pasted them from various lyric websites. Her music is wonderful, you can check it out here. I recommend Boys For Pele, Under the Pink, and Little Earthquakes. Check out the song Flying Dutchman while you're at it. It's fantastic. I'll let you know if I hear back from her.

Carolyn See and Charming Notes

Carolyn See

I recently moved and came across a postcard I received from Carolyn See. She wrote, Making a Literary Life. In the book, she recommends that a writer write 1,000 words a day (or two hours of revision) plus write a "charming note" to someone in the field they admire. My first note was to Carolyn, it was just before valentines day so I included a box of See's candy. The postcard I received from her is above. It really made me feel like I belong. Here a noted author took the time to handwrite me a note back. How wonderful! I truly get what she means. Sadly, I didn't send out any other notes. As part of my new years resolution, I plan on changing that.

I made a folder for my daily writing, printed a calendar, and even bought stickers to mark off the days where I complete my writing tasks. I haven't completed one yet, I kind of forgot how to do free-writing and forcing it was pushing me towards writer's block. Anywho, I even made some new postcards on Vista Print. What I'm going to do with this blog is let you know who I am writing and post their responses (if they write me back). I'd also like to post responses other writers who do this get.

A word to the wise on writing authors. Usually, the only address you will be able to find is through their publisher. Use to find the publisher of their latest book and do a search on google for the publisher. I used my address book on my Mac and was able to add a picture and additional information. If you are writing a magazine editor or writer, simply send it care of the the periodical. I wrote Carolyn in January, or thereabouts, and as you can see her response came in June. It takes a lot of time for publishers to forward mail, so don't get discouraged. They get tons of fan mail every day. I would recommend reading Carolyn's book first as she tells you the ins and outs of these notes. Remember to tell them why you admire them and a little bit about yourself. This isn't you pitching an idea, it's you making a contact.

I'd love to hear your results, if you wish to try these charming notes. If you want to email them to me, send a scan of the front and back to mydarkdoor(at)yahoo(dot)com. Images must be pasted into the email, I will not open attachments. I will blank out your address along with the authors so no worries there. If you admire my work and want to send me one, you can send it to Brandi Ballard, 110 Dartmouth Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80911. Please don't use this address to send junk mail. (I'm sort of between locations at the moment and this would just piss off the current occupants). Your postcard might just end up on this site.

Today I'm writing Judy Reeves, author of A Writer's Book of Days, A Creative Writer's Kit, and The Writer's Retreat Kit. I'll keep you posted. :P