Tag Archives: write

Stumbling Over Statistics

charts-on-laptop-5760x3840_97336I confess, I’m too easily caught up with statistics. What’s more I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate their subjectivity to sometimes obscure factors, and that they are not always entirely accurate. Today, for example I discovered some fine print stating that my statistics source has an average eight percent variable. Does anyone else get the humor?

On to my point. I began my blog mainly to wade farther out into the publishing waters, hoping to develop a reader base, exposure, maybe attract an agent, etc. You get it. I quickly came to appreciate the additional benefits that come with blogging; accountability, increased sensitivity and attention to details. But who am I kidding? The bottom line is exposure.

I officially launched What’s Next (Doing the Next Best Thing) on 11 September 2014. Almost immediately my life’s course took some more overwhelming, unexpected turns. After some months I posted an official “pause” to the blog. I continued extensive, organized journaling but stepped away from writing for publication for that season.

After considerable research I restarted my blog, changing the name to What’s Next in September 2015. Soon I stumbled upon WordPress Blogging U and the WordPress Reader.

From there, wooed by my gradually increasing (and decreasing) number of followers and blogger awards, I posted everything I imagined, again I admit, mostly to inflate my numbers. The adventure continued into more directions than I want to admit to this forum. I was dramatically caught up with my blog statistics.

I had generated new outlines, chapters and a couple of manuscripts for what certainly could have landed on the desk of Spielberg, Coppola, Cassavetes or Jeremy Leven. And then I woke up. In truth, even I lost interest reading them. In in the new-found fun and fellowship of blogging I’d lost sight of my objective and my focus.

shreddYears ago, after filing several rejected manuscripts I learned the painful lesson about ignoring the distractions and simply write my stories. I can only imagine how the world turns for other writers, but in my world those distractions often came disguised as the care and feeding of my family. Juggling work with providing food, clothing, health care and the most accommodating shelter possible for us all became simpler as the boys moved on and out. Through the changes and heartaches I did my best to keep my eye on my goal.

So I’ve proven that statistics are good as a road map as long as they don’t become the focal point. There remains a distinctive balance between making a living and living one’s life. Some days my platform feels a little more slippery than others, but I haven’t fallen off the scale entirely – this week. From my perspective and experience I can only imagine a writer’s life depicted by Richard Castle, Jessica Fletcher and Jamal Wallace. I’m more like William Forrester. All. Fictional. Characters.

While I’ve never gone to war or lived outside the continental U.S. I relate to Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Jane Austen; living and writing about life as they knew it.

But imagine if they had blogged…

 

“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” John 7:37,38 (NLT)

 
References:
Castle, 2009 – present; Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle
Murder, She Wrote, 1984 – 1996; Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher
Finding Forrester, 2000; Rob Brown as Jamal Wallace and Sean Connery as William Forrester

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

Writing – Listening

keyboard garyrabbit

“Learn to listen, not with the intent to reply but with the intent to understand.”

 

This quote from Pears Before Swine was exactly what I needed the particular moment the article arrived. Typically my phone is set on silence while I work. I believe Providence had a better idea today.

I’d been working on a series that stirred deep, strong emotions, tripping over scenarios from decades before when my phone grabbed my attention. Needing a break, I immediately read the linked article for a breath of fresh air. The post brought another obscure, but important lesson to mind:

“Did you listen to what I told you?” Grandmother asked me. Truth is, I hadn’t. I was about five years old at the time. All I could think of was the sour balls. All I could see was the beautiful candy dish; the icon of a visit to Grandma’s house. But from that moment on, when Grandmother spoke, you can believe I listened. I listened to her voice, studied her face and her body language, took in the tone of the room and I noted to her every word. The candy was my motivation.

In today’s scenario I’d entirely left the point of what I’d been writing. I’d lost touch with my character and stopped listening. I’d been describing every unimportant detail of the scene, floundering aimlessly as verbosity took over. I’d left my motivation in the dust somewhere.

Shaking it off, settling in, I envision my cover art, my new candy dish. I listen carefully, and soon the right words flow again.

 

 

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

The Artist’s Staff

quill MediloMy quill on the floor
Bent, crushed beneath feet
Indifferent to its presence
Unbridled emotions bolt

 

Loss
Confusion
Resentment
Reflection

Rework the shaft
Dip into the well
Ink pool indiscernible
Accidental art

pencils daniel_dThankful for provision
Hang the art
Make another quill
Fool, grab a pencil

 

 

Salud Roo’s Muse

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Filed under Latent Poetic Tendencies

Another Unforgettable Day

ZnD Engagement photo

Among the days a mother never forgets, Homecoming Day, the moment her sons’ feet touch native soil again ranks at the top of the list.

I deeply appreciate the comments and private messages to my One Unforgettable Day post, especially those from people who are only getting to know me. I sometimes wonder if today’s American culture overlooks the genuine sacrifices the entire families of our Military Personnel, Law Enforcement Officers, First Responders and their Technical Support Teams (the most unsung, every day heroes) make on behalf of the common good.

I barely mentioned the rest of the story that began with One Unforgettable Day in a recent exchange:

Michelle Malone dot org: “The connection a mother has to her children can’t be aptly described in words. I offer you my heartfelt prayers, and I applaud your transparency.”

What’s Next.Wordpress.org: “Thank you. …My first son shipped out for the gulf coast as Nathan arrived at Fort Sam Houston for orthopedic reconstruction. [About eleven months later], Nate redeployed to Iraq to finish that tour. He’ll tell you he had to try to find the half of his foot he lost there. Nathan and Iain criss-crossed again; returning stateside unharmed. Since then, Nate served another tour in Iraq, came home to marry. Weeks after the wedding he deployed on another tour of duty in Korea. With 2014 came another tour in Afghanistan. Still in active duty, Nathan now trains our men and women <strong>stateside</strong> so he and is wife (retired, Army 2010) are raising their two children together. Iain recently retired from the Navy [so he’s no longer subject to recall]. He is a firefighter/paramedic, married to a firefighter/paramedic, they have two children together.”

 

"Nathan" and "Iain" as boots

“Nathan” and “Iain” long, long ago.

Neither Iain nor Nathan consider themselves heroes, although throughout their military careers their jobs frequently put them in harm’s way. Iain continues the work he trained for in the Navy and obtained his paramedic credentials in the private sector. Despite tours of duty in several hostile environments, they both sincerely believe they’re “just doin’ their jobs.”

The Army moved Nathan around in different specialties, thoroughly training him in each capacity, so that he likely has the combined education equivalent of a doctorate degree. Having completed two bachelor degrees, he’s literally too busy doing his job and supporting his family to continue formal education.

 

 

 

"Mr. & Mrs. Iain"

“Mr. & Mrs. Iain”

My sons come from a long line of military, law enforcement and technical services. I wish I had access to compile an album of my family’s service-related photos today. Prints of my grandfathers, my father, uncles and most of my brothers are literally out of my reach. Even if I come across as a bumptious old pest, I think we earned our bragging rights.

 

 

"Iain" (left) and his team mate at work

“Iain” (left) and his team mate after diver training.

"Iain" Volunteering

“Iain” Volunteering

"Nathan" (left) 2014

“Nathan” (left) 2014

"Nathan" teaching

“Nathan” teaching

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Filed under The World According to Roo

Present, Future and Past

I agree for the most part. As with most of life, it’s all about our next choice. I recently heard James Reeves say, “If you haven’t dealt with your past, then it isn’t your past, it’s your present and your future.” Sometimes we get stuck in the past because we left a stone unturned. Sometimes we can kick stones out of our way. And sometimes we simply walk on. We choose what we do next.

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Filed under A Door Ajar

My Daily Delusion

sunrise pond

The songs of loons on the lagoon gently draw me from sleep. My stretching body activates motion sensors and light begins to gradually radiate from the hand-carved crown molding of the luxurious room. The coffee machine quietly begins. I breathe in fresh air and the Italian roast-amaretto aroma as my feet touch the warm pile of sheep skins (synthetic, of course). Perfectly tepid air caresses my body as the eastern wall that are double paned folding doors. With a command the opaque glass becomes transparent, it perfectly frames the view of water reflecting pre-dawn stars crowning the treetops.

“Good morning Roo. What are your thoughts today?” the soft, baritone sound of Voithos, my humanoid personal assistant asks. After a pause, it suggests a passage of my previous night’s work, its choice based on my respiration, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. I look across the room to the smooth, warm wood of my immaculate desk and executive chair and sigh contentedly about where I’ll work again today.

“Good morning, God” are my first words. Then, “Voithos, narrate Chapter seven.” Immediately Voithos’ mellow voice (sounding remarkably like Sean Connery’s brogue), rises and falls with the latest chapter of my novel, the advance for which built this high-tech tree house. I glide across the room to the work station…

And now I’m awake from that dream world, reality rudely forcing it’s way upon me.

The neighbor dog’s obnoxious barking – yet again – shatters my lovely dream. I groan, having hours before rolled from my chair onto the foot of my bed, pulling grandma’s afghan partially around me and dozed on top of the worn comforter where I stopped. I begin to unroll, allowing gravity to pull my legs toward the floor after banging into the folding chair at my desk.

About the time I feel my feet beneath me, I am shuffling down the hall toward Mr. Coffee waiting on the vanity. As I once again long to afford the luxury of Keurig pods, I decide not to write again about the blessings and the evils of coffee, my primary vice.

Making out the outline of my phone on the other side of the counter, I press the speaker button and voice my next thoughts, “Okay Google, transcribe…”

The bleep-bloop tone tells me that my worn, dated device failed again – and I forget that inspiration. I pull my robe from the back of the door and slide it over my arms onto my shoulders, blotting the water from my hands on the robe. I stumble on the belt that was dangling across my legs and right myself while already lukewarm coffee sloshes over my wrist, I am now fully awake. I look out the door onto the balcony to see that the newly-formed pond remains where the street used to be. I consider the three previous days of relentless downpours and wonder if this is the day the fully saturated roof material gives way and crashes into the garage.

I sigh deeply, walking toward my bedroom. Diffused, gray light now oozing between the blinds, I grasp the cord, raising them until the line snags and stops the process. I sigh again and breathe in the cool, early morning air.

Turning and taking the seven light steps around the bed to my make-shift desk; a folding table upon which my laptop rests, ergonomically correct, on top of my printer. I bend to lift the pillow from the floor, set it upon the cold, metal chair, and sit. Setting the wireless keyboard on my lap and opening the new laptop, I thank God aloud for the gift from my son that delivered me to Windows 8.1 from the old laptop that takes a full seven minutes to start up.

corner desk

As a siren sounds and I hear the engine undertones from the firehouse blocks away, I send up a quick prayer for the first responders and those they’re off to assist, as well as my firefighter/paramedic son and his wife, my soldier son, his wife, my third and fourth sons, their wives, the grand kids…

Opening my eyes, they scan over the documents saved to my desktop screen, the previous day’s work including today’s Writing 101 assignment. My heart rate increases and I smile. I sip. I want to meet my personal deadline that I moved up two days, to post early so I can then get to my email while the day is fresh. Hmm, where I write…

How do you design your work space? What would work better for you? What do you hope for in the future? I like new ideas. You can contact me below or visit Contact Roo in my Menu: https://roosruse.wordpress.com/contact-roo/

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Filed under Notes from the Apex, Writing and Blogging