Responsibilities

23 Nov

We all have them. Some choose to ignore them. Kudos to you. I, however, cannot. My mother had a mantra (well, she had many mantras), “We all have to do somethings we don’t want to do.” Now I repeat the same mantra to my daughter every week morning when she is rolling around on the floor because she is tired and rather sleep than go to school.

This saying is one us writers are very familiar with. Most writers have a day job that pays the bills. During our 9-5, we daydream about being able to write full-time. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Absolutely! What stops us? Responsibilities. But just because we are responsible for putting food on the table, paying the mortgage, and keeping the lights on, doesn’t mean our responsibility to our craft is any less important. Many of us would probably go insane if it we didn’t have our writing as an outlet and a means to keep the nice young men with their clean white coats at bay. It is truly a balancing act.

What you need to remember is this:

You do what you have to so you can…

1. Take care of your loved ones.

2. Continue your craft.

If that means flipping burgers so your baby can eat, be the best damn burger flipper there ever was. After all, how could you expect to get any writing done if your baby is constantly interrupting you saying, “Mama, I’m hungry.” If you have to work on computers to pay your car note so you can attend writers’ conferences, by all means, W-E-R-K!

Few things are more important than your writing. One of those is your family and friends. Period. Regardless of anything else, people should ALWAYS be valued over all else. If we start to value our passions and dreams more than the people who care about us, we’ve got a problem. After all, what fun is finally achieving your goals as a writer when you have no one to share your success with?

C. L. Parson

Taking Control

22 Nov

Every day, I tell my daughter, “You are going to have a great day.” Not, “I hope you have a great day,” or “Try to have a great day.” I say, “You are going to have a great day,” because I feel if she believes she has no choice in the matter, she is doomed to have a day that is great. I can do this because my daughter is still young enough to believe that Mommy is right most if not all of the time. Thanks to my mommy super powers, I have an infinite knowledge too vast for my grade-schooler to comprehend. Of course, that is all a load of crap. But she doesn’t know that.

The truth is we forget we have control over our own attitudes. We forget we have the choice to not allow others to affect our general mood and outlook on life. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard or said, “I was having a great day. That is until So-and-so had to ruin it by…” It is easy to blame others for our sour moods. Just because we have control over how we let others affect us doesn’t mean it is always easy to practice that control. This is why we tend to give up that control, and then blame someone else for our bad day. Don’t give up the control, no matter how heavy that yoke may be. It is not the speaker who gives weight and value to his words, it is his audience. Remember that the next time someone gives you a harsh criticism. They are as common as dirt, and should be valued as such. As for kind words, they are worth their weight in gold because they are just as rare and just as valuable.

C. L. Parson

Why Deadlines Are My Best Friend

11 Nov

As happens to so many writers who have day jobs, families, school, you name it, I often push my writing to the back burner. Family is top priority. Then comes the day job because it pays the bills. You can find writing at the very bottom of my uber long to-do list. Actually, it might be in the margin at the very bottom, almost as an after thought. Why does this happen? How can I allow it to happen? Oh, the humanity!

I found that there is one thing that my writing is missing that everything else on the infinite To-Do List has: a deadline. When I prioritize my tasks, I do so according to how long each task takes and when the task is due. Those tasks without deadlines are pushed to the bottom to make room for more tasks with deadlines. My writing isn’t a priority because I haven’t put a deadline on it.  There is a simple fix for this dilemma.

Create deadlines!

They can be impossible deadlines. In fact, those are my very favorite kind! Seemingly impossible deadlines tend to light a fire under my hind quarters. More often than not, I find that these so-called “impossible” deadlines are very possible once I put in some effort and ingenuity. Why do you think National Novel Writing Month is such a huge hit?

Do you create deadlines for yourself? How have deadlines helped or hindered your writing process?

Want more? Below are links to a couple of Writers Digest articles about time management and deadlines.
http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the-day/meet-your-writing-goals-with-four-time-management-tools
http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the-day/accomplish-your-writing-goals-make-a-schedule-and-meet-your-deadlines

C. L. Parson

How To Write When You Don’t Have Time

13 Sep

These ideas may not be substitutes for old-fashioned, tried-and-true butt-in-chair time, but it does give your writing mind a chance to play when you are pressed for time or enjoying your daily commute.

  • Write a few first liners.

    It is amazing how a story can unfold from just a few simple words. In celebration of Friday the 13th, Writers Digest encouraged their Twitter followers to tweet scary first lines using the hashtag #FridayThe13thStory. I tweeted up a storm and came away with some awesome ideas for some new stories. The best part is each first line only cost me about five minutes of my time at the most.

  • Make a character profile in your mind for the person in front of you in line at Starbucks.

    There are some interesting people we encounter every day in this crazy day of ours. Give your writer mind something to do while you wait for your triple shot expresso. That woman in line in front of you, she is actually in the witness protection program. The high powered business man sitting in the corner is actually a highly skilled assassin. That soccer wife putting too much sugar in her coffee actually has a secret second family in another state. The possibilities are endless. Bonus: Take note of any strange traits or ticks you notice in other people as you are going about your day. They are great ways to add three-dimensional flare to your characters.

  • Drive around town as a character.

    My favorite game to play in the car is something I call “car chase”. I pick out a car behind me in traffic and pretend like they are out to get me. Then I make up a story line of who they are, what they did, what I did, what they want, etc. If you don’t like chase scenes, imagine you are driving anywhere but where you are actually going. Why are you going there?

  • Play the “What if…” game.

    What if today is the day zombies rise from their graves? What if I walk into the gas station only to find it empty with the clerk tied up behind the counter? What if all the men on Earth began to regress back through the evolutionary chain? The “What if…” game is another tool you can use anywhere. Think of a scenario and what you or the people around you would do.

  • Take pictures and use them as inspiration for later.

    I have recently been trying to take more pictures while I am running around town. I try to take photos of random human objects in nature, like a chair left in the woods or a plastic food tray abandoned on a nature tail. Then I look back on these photos and write down story ideas.

Tools of the Trade:

  • Digital Recorder

    Because you will probably be driving or too busy to jot down notes, carry around a digital recorder or download a digital recorder app on your phone.

  • Note Pad

    The guy preparing your food at Panda Express is a mouth breather, and you think that is a perfect trait for one of your characters in your sci-fi thriller. However, you don’t want to make a voice memo and say “mouth breather” right in front of him (your mother taught you better than that). That is why it is important to have other options, such as a note pad. You can download one for your phone or carry around the analog version, Post Its and a pencil.

C. L. Parson

Professional Writer Quiz

7 Aug

In response to recent events, namely the publishing of an article by Lisa Morton of the HWA LA chapter, I decided to post my own quiz to help other writers determine whether or not they are allowed to call themselves professional writers. To be a professional writer, you must answer “yes” to ALL the questions, because professionals do not do anything half-assed. Those who fail this quiz will be put on the black list labeled “Hobbyists” and shall be monitored from here on out. 

Here is the quiz:

1. Do you blow off parties so you can go home and write?

2. Do you sometimes forget to eat because you are too busy writing?

3. Do you forget to visit your grandmother in the nursing home because you are too busy writing, even though the hospice nurse leaves a message every day saying she could pass away any day now?

4. Do you forget to feed your pets because you are too busy writing?

5. Does your home look like a hoarder’s paradise because you are too busy writing to take out the trash or put anything away?

6. Have you broken promises because to keep them would take time away from your writing? Example: You didn’t pick up your significant other at the airport like you said you would.

7. Are you still wearing the same clothes going on a week, underwear included, because to change clothes would cut into your prime writing time?

8. Have you forgotten to pick up your children at school because you are too engrossed in your writing?

9. Have your children missed a meal because your writing is much more important than cooking?

10. Has your spouse filed for divorce and/or has DFCS taken your children away because you have neglected your duties as spouse and/or parent due to the fact that those duties would take time away from your writing?

If you answered “yes” to ALL of these questions, congratulations! You are a professional writer!

C. L. Parson

How to Become a Famous Writer in 5 Easy Steps

5 May

1. Have something strange/unusual/horrible happen to you during childhood (preferably hard child labor).

If you had a pretty laid back childhood, harken the emotions you felt when you really really wanted to go to mall and your mom said no.

2. Write a book which hardly veils the fact that your main character looks a lot like you and has a lot of the same problems and personality ticks.

How else can we live forever? However, naming this main character after yourself is frowned upon. Try to avoid that if possible.

3. Make lots of money.

Pretty self-explanatory, I think.

4. Spend your money in frivolous ways. This can be in a way of your choosing. Gamble it away. Spend it on your mistress. Lose it all prospecting. The more scandalous, the better.

What do Fyodor Dostoevsky, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain have in common? They made a lot of money, then wasted it in foolish endeavors. Oh, and they also wrote some of the best books known to humankind. Coincidence? I think not.

5. Either die rich or die poor. But don’t EVER die middle-class.

Did you hear of the writer who died with a modest sum of money in the bank, just enough to settle his last earthly affairs with some change leftover for the grieving family? Neither did I.

The Liebster Award

18 Feb

I was nominated twice for The Liebster Award. Charles Yallowitz and Miss Molly nominated me. Thank you both.

This award is designed for bloggers with less than 200 followers.

The rules are:
* Share eleven facts about yourself with your fellow bloggers.
* Make sure to answer the awarder’s eleven questions.
* Ask eleven questions of your own.
* Nominate eleven bloggers for this award.

Eleven Facts:

1. I am a huge zombie fan.

2. I enjoy reading nonfiction books by individuals who do what they love and get paid to do it. I am currently reading Kevin Smith’s Tough Shit. (I hope to work with him some day.)

3. I still dress up for Halloween. I was a werewolf last year.

4. I am still going to college. It takes a lot longer when you can only take classes at night.

5. Anne Rice was a huge inspiration to me as a writer. She also helped convince me to stick through the college route. No one can every take away your education.

6. A poem of mine was published in The Stonepile Writers Anthology: Volume 1.

7. I’m allergic to cats.

8. Though I am a huge fan of horror writing, I can’t help to add a little humor in the mix.

9. Mark Twain is one of my idols.

10. I am paranoid about eating anything past it’s “best by” or “sell by” date, even if it is only the day after the date printed.

11. I married a drummer. He is amazing!

Here are the 11 questions from Charles.

  1. What is your favorite pizza topping?
    Tomato Sauce. Doesn’t taste right without the sauce.
  2. Do you have a nickname?  If so, what and why?
    I had a nickname, but I don’t want to repeat it. Thanks Heath! :P
  3. Who is your hero?
    My parents because they taught me that family is the most important thing in the world. Everything else is merely icing on the cake.
  4. What was the last song you listened to?
    Jeannie . Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA”
  5. What is your biggest fear?
    It used to be zombies. Now I think my biggest fear is failure.
  6. If you had a choice between riding an elephant or a camel, which would you choose? Why?
    Elephant! They are my favorite!
  7. Is there an animal that you identify with?  Why?
    Probably the wolf. The wolf’s needs and wants are simple, and she goes after them with dedication and perseverance. I feel like I do the same.
  8. What is your favorite season?  Why?
    I like Fall, while it is still pretty warm. I love summer too, but not when it is Africa hot.
  9. Do you wish I was better at asking questions?
    I think you are doing just fine.
  10. In a fight between King Kong, Dracula, and Kenny from South Park, who would win?
    Kenny would be dead before the fight ever started. Dracula could try to drain King Kong, but King Kong would simply bat at him as though Dracula were a mosquito. I would have to give this one to King Kong.
  11. Do you believe that everyone has the ability to be an artist?
    Absolutely!

Here are 11 questions from Miss Molly.

1.  Best day of your life so far.  I got this from “City Slickers,” that scene when the guys are riding along with the herd and talking.  And like their rules, the best day can’t be the day any of your kids were born.
When I married my husband.

2.  If you could be somebody else for a day, who would it be and why?
Anne Rice just to see what else she is working on.

3.  What are your three favorite foods?
Pickled eggs, chocolate, and okra. Not always together, but not always separate either.

4.  When did you consider yourself grown-up (if you do)?  If you don’t consider yourself grown-up, what will be the marker?
I will never grown up!

5.  What tokens, charms, special objects do you keep around to inspire your writing or other work you do if you’re not a writer?
I don’t have any tokens or charms to inspire me. Looking out the window helps.

6.  If you could make up your own astrology signs, what would the name of your sign be and what would be the symbol?  Explain.
Good question. I have no idea.

7.   Who was your favorite high school teacher and why.
How can I pick just one? All of my English teachers were wonderful and really encouraged me.

8.   What was the last live music performance you attended?  How did you like it?
Rammstein. It. Was. EPIC!

9.   As a kid, what was your favorite book? Do you still have a copy?
Maniac Magee. My brother has our copy.

10.  Someone once said it’s not what we give that defines love but what we give up.  Have you ever given up anything for love?  What and why?
What haven’t I given up for love? He’s worth it. :)

11.   What’s your favorite mode of travel?
Boat. I love the water!

Here are my questions.

1. If you could use only one word to describe yourself, what would that word be?

2. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

3. What is your passion?

4. Who was the most influential person in your life?

5. What is your favorite movie?

6. Who is your favorite horror movie villain?

7. Car, boat, airplane, or train?

8. Oxford comma, yes or no?

9. Self-publishing or traditional publishing?

10. Kindle or Nook?

11. Glass half-full or half-empty?

I nominate:
http://carlynross.wordpress.com/

http://abbeywilson.wordpress.com/
http://ansieh.wordpress.com/
http://littlebitofholland.wordpress.com/
http://onegirlvaudeville.com/
http://gwenstephens.wordpress.com/
http://adamnathan.com/
http://writerrbdavis.wordpress.com/
http://jamieweilwritingmatters.wordpress.com/
http://lovelybooksblog.wordpress.com/
http://kerricull.wordpress.com/

Happy Writing!

C. L. Parson

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