Coffee. An Unconditional Love.

I love coffee unconditionally.

I enjoy everything about coffee. The smell. The taste. The color. The texture.

Though I prefer the beautiful smoothness of Kona coffee, I will still drink down the bitter dregs of cafeteria coffee.

I function well enough without coffee, but with it…I’m unstoppable.

This week, I stumbled upon THIS ARTICLE, which stated that “NASA scientists believe the research demonstrates that web-spinning spiders can be used to test drugs because the more toxic the chemical, the more deformed was the web.”

Hmm…

…of all the drug-addled spiders, the webs of the ones on caffeine lack the characteristic “wheel” of a normal spider web. In fact, caffeine makes spiders “incapable of spinning anything better than a few threads strung together at random.”

So, does that mean that a writer on caffeine would be incapable of anything better than a few words strung together at random?

(It’s like one of those Zen Koans…like, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”)

Anyway, all that to say, even knowing that caffeine is more toxic than the average drug, wrapped up in coffee, it’s still my drug of choice.

And, you’ d have to pry my coffee from my cold, dead hands.

See? Unconditional love.

(Also, I know that NASA wasn’t trying to compare spiders and people. I’m not completely crazy.)

(Besides, people like reading random words.)

Photo credit: Coffee Love By Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic

Photo credit: Superhero by Vegas Bleeds Neon

For the Love of My Laptop

laptop

So, for about two weeks, my laptop has been sick. For some unknown reason (*coughcough Laptop is really old coughcough*), it choked and died on me, leaving me dependent on my desk top computer for any kind of progress on WIP2. Which wouldn’t have been a bad thing or an inconvenience, really, except that half of my house was still under construction. So, the husband and I had to sleep in my office while the master bedroom was being dolled up with new…well, everything. (No worries, my office is a roomy bedroom, so it fit our bed comfortably. It just happens to house my desktop computer, hence the term “office.”)

Anyway, because desktop computer was also in our makeshift bedroom, I couldn’t exactly make a lot of progress on WIP2. Or, any computer-ing, really, like blog posts and visiting other blogs. For some reason, the hubs can’t sleep with a glowing screen on at night, and waking up to the clickety-clackety-ing of a keyboard in the morning makes him kinda murderous. (Crazy, right?) But, since I love my hubs, I wanted to accommodate him. Therefore, I shifted my normal writing routine from crazy early in the morning (or really late at night, depending on your perspective) to around 7 or 8 PM (basically, when I get home from the paythebills job) till 10 PM (when we go to the gym).

I’m happy to report that as of a few days ago, we moved out of my office, and into the master bedroom. And, as of Thursday evening, I have my laptop again! ^_^  *frabjous day* *callooh callay*

Throughout all this, I learned a few things.

First, “save early, save often” is meaningless if the computer on which I’m saving my files dies of a heart attack and I have no way of retrieving those files. I thank God every day for Dropbox. I don’t know where I’d be without it. Thankfully, hubs was able to recover and save ALL my files, but what if he couldn’t?? ALL my work, all my files would have been lost to me. My only hope would have been that my alpha readers had *some* kind of copies of WIP2. Since The Incident, I’ve backed everything up on a flash drive, and have DVD backups, too, just in case.

Second, I learned to grit my teeth and make the most of the resources that I had, even if the situation wasn’t ideal. I hand wrote pages in the morning. I transcribed them onto the desk top at night. I made excruciatingly slow word count progress on WIP2. All the while, I kept thinking, man, if I were on my laptop, how many pages would I have finished by now? But you know what, I still made progress despite my cramped circumstances, and for that win alone, I will celebrate.

Third, I now have a new appreciation of the freedom that my Laptop gives me, OH SO MUCH. I appreciate the freedom I have to sit in My Chair in the living room and type type type into the wee hours of the morning (not unlike what I’m doing now…;) ) I appreciate having the screen right here instead of at an awkward height/angle like my desk top. I love how my fingers don’t freeze up because Laptop keeps me warm (helps with the typing speed, fo’ sho’). And, I love how FAST I can type on it. I wrote more than my required four-pages this evening without even feeling it.

Anyway, it’s a great luxury for my writing life to have Laptop back in my life again. (Heck, I’ve even made the rounds of my fellow campaigners’ blogs this morning.*) But, I’m happy to know that if a situation arises in which I *can’t* use Laptop again (please oh please let that happen a long time from now, when I have money to replace Laptop), I know that I can continue on with my goals, albeit at a slower rate, and be all right with it.

Speaking of progress, time to add more pages to WIP2. ^_^

*Thank you to all my fellow campaigners for your patience. I have subscribed to ALL the blogs in the groups I’m in via Google Reader, and will have my dystopia/post-apocalyptic group linked and posted with my YA All Genre group on my Campaign page by next week (most likely sooner, of course). Also to my non-Wordpress colleagues, I *just* discovered that I can be a part of that Google Friend Connect thing-y via my Twitter account (I know, kinda slow, but I never bothered to click on it before because I thought I’d need a blogger account!), so as I comment on new blog posts, I’ll be sure to “Join” your site.

**Still so unbelievably happy with Laptop. *pets Laptop* *loving sigh*

Write it Out

Notebooks

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes, I have trouble saying what I mean.  I either fumble my words or go into a meandering stream of “likes” and “you know’s” as I float toward what it is I meant to say.

Usually, I’m at my fumbliest when I lack proper sleep and rest.  You can imagine how bumbly I was at the height of the holiday season when sleep was at its lowest and the people interactions were at its highest.  It’s like my mouth was falling down the stairs.

All that to say…

This past week was more challenging than usual in terms of writing.  I know this may be contrary to say, but it’s like I had too many words.  I wanted to address so many things in my Work In Progress (aka, The Hot Mess) that the words got clogged somewhere in the assembly line that starts with my brain elves tinkering with ideas, and then shooting those ideas down through my fingers to become inked words on paper.

Most of the time, a morning session of stream of consciousness writing can get me to push past that clog and get the assembly line back in working order.  This time, though, was the first time in a long time that I found I had nothing to say.

I tried writing on my laptop.  I tried scribbling in my notebook.  I tried writing in different environments.  I even tried writing other things, like new pages for my blog.

Nothing.

The malaise in writing culminated to yesterday, when I had the day off to catch up on my writing, a habit I adopted from my NaNoWriMo days.  The only thing I seemed to have words for were crits for my friend, WookiesGirl.  Though I had plenty of comments in my crits for her, I could barely write the email that went along with those crits.  (I also owe Melissa an email about my WIP.)

Then, I encountered this post and just shook my head.

I was so focused on getting something for my WIP that I forgot the very reason why I started Novel-writing in the first place: to have fum.

Sure, I have goals, and I like to achieve them.  But the reason why I started my goal was the fun and joy of writing and creating new worlds and characters.  I enjoyed the challenge of it.

However, I became so focused on it, that I didn’t give my brain elves random things to work with.  Heck, I didn’t even give them time to rest and recharge.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.-Kahlil Gibran

So, yesterday, I read without guilt.  I tweeted without guilt.  I watched Firefly and Avatar: The Last Airbender, Book 2.  I had dinner with my husband, and laughed at how awesome we are.

And, when I got to my desk this morning, a torrent of words splashed on to the page.  I couldn’t scribble fast enough.

So, Tell Me: How do you revive your muse?

On Twitter

[This post is written in response to one of my lovely NerdSquad tweeps, @AnnieLCechini, of The Ink Phantom.

Realizing more than ever that brevity is not my strength, this post is the first of what seems to be a mini series.]

Twitter.

Some say it’s a complete waste of time.  Some view it as a marketing tool.  Others see it as a way to network (read: gossip).  And, most of the time, it’s a little of all of the above.

Lucky for me, I primarily use Twitter for fun.  I enjoy following certain people or businesses for information that I deem is important (for example, @HealthRanger), or because I love their products (@TropTraditions has the BEST certified organic virgin coconut oil!) But, I also love meeting new friends, and admittedly have found a lot of my nearest and dearest writing buddies via Twitter.  (I still remember the day that Melissa, aka @melissaveres and I found each other and bonded over Mockingjay.  Le sigh.)

So, how can you use Twitter effectively so that you can balance having all the fun with the business of finding more friends on Twitter to follow (or follow you), so that the fun just keeps being had?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  Here are some ways that I use Twitter to keep it fun for me, and hopefully, for my friends (admittedly, I don’t care so much about the number of people following me; unless the number ends with a “9”, then I will beg for someone to follow me. Must Have. Round. Numbers.).

I’m going to assume that you already know the basics of Twitter (though, I’ll be writing a little bit about that in the future), and are a generally nice person who won’t flame other users.  And, let’s just say that you just want to find more friends to chitchat with, and don’t necessarily care about your follower count (though it would be nice if you did get more followers.  The more friends, the merrier, right?).

The More You Give The More You Get

First of all, the more you acknowledge and interact with your followers (or with those whom you follow) the more likely it is that you will get followed back, and will be acknowledged by other twitter users.  I see many twitter users that state that they don’t auto follow, but they do @reply.  I think it’s safe to say that 99% of Twitter users are like this.  I know for me personally, I don’t even see new followers since I tweet almost exclusively from my iPhone, so @replying to me would be the best way to tell me, “hey I’m here, please followback!” (without actually saying, “please follow back.”  You have no idea how much that annoys me.  I follow people whom I find interesting and don’t, you know, act like spam.  But that’s just me.)

There are several ways to find and acknowledge new-to-you tweeps on Twitter.  Replying to a tweep who mentions you is, of course, the most obvious way.  But, other methods include retweeting a user’s tweet, or acknowledging a tweep who retweets something of yours.  It’s not really necessary, but I find it complimentary that another user liked my tweet so much they wanted to retweet it.  I found a lot of fun friends that way that I wasn’t originally following, like, off the top of my head, @soulwindow and @clarakensie.

Another way to acknowledge fellow tweeps is to recommend them to your friends, the most popular method being Follow Fridays (denoted by search hash tags #FollowFriday or #FF).  (Twitter has also broken down follow days to #MusicMonday and #WriterWednesday, too if you REALLY want to spread the love.)  Please note, I find it a lot more meaningful to be recommended by tweeps who 1) actually follow me and 2) aren’t recommending EVERY user on their following list.  Besides, I only recommend those tweeps that I find truly enjoyable and have had either great conversations with them, or have acquired great information from them, or both.  This way, I can really personalize why I follow and recommend those tweeps above the other nice folk I play with on Twitter, even if it’s to say they’re sweet.  Better than being lumped together on a list just because.

Finally, one of my favorite ways to interact with tweeps is simply responding to a tweet that I found particular funny or moving or whatever.  For example, shortly after I discovered Annie on my follower list, I saw this tweet on her timeline:

to which I replied:

and then, she said:

Our very first conversation, after which, a friendship (and blog post) was born!

As you can see, if I laughed or snickered at it, I feel the need to reply to the user in some manner (even if it’s just to say, “LOL”).  Usually, I retweet with a comment, so if other users or followers of mine find it interesting, it will be easier for them to follow the conversation, and possibly join in.  (This is Twitter!  The whole premise IS to join the conversation!)

Be Yourself

Just an obvious note worth mentioning: while you’re friending, following, and otherwise interacting with tweeps on Twitter, please remember to be yourself (or, more specifically, act like a real person).  I know.  EVERYONE says “Be Yourself.”  But, it’s really true.  No one wants to follow, or will continue to follow, someone who just posts links to who-knows-where, with no explanations.    No one wants to follow spam.  (And, I KNOW I don’t want to be followed by spambots…they’re creepy! *cringe*)

Also, think before you tweet: would you think it’s acceptable to act this way in real life?  No?  Then, maybe it’s best not to do this on Twitter.  (If the guy I unfollowed because he wouldn’t stop listing his followers EVERY DAY of the week actually DOES walk around yammering off the names of ALL his friends in real life, as if he were reading a phone book, to EVERYONE he knows, then I will need to amend my statement.)  No one wants to follow someone out of obligation, either, kinda like no one wants to feel like they’re being sold to, even though they were in the market to buy something.  (Random User: “If I follow you, will you follow me?”  Me: *pushes block user option*).  This is especially true if you actually NEED to have a certain amount of followers for whatever work/job/industry you’re in.  Don’t make me feel like I’m a sale. However, if you make a personal connection you’ll probably end up getting a follower.  (Just like in real life sales, imagine that.)

Me?  I’m nerdy, goofy, and love a wide variety of random things.  I like finding and following other random and funny tweeps.  If tweeps want to follow me, that’s great, and more likely than not, if they start talking to me, I will follow them back.

Oooh, Shiny!

Twitter is my shiny toy that I like to play with when I’m not pulling my hair out with my work in progress.  And, I like being able to share my joy over it with you.

This is just the first, general post, so to speak.  My next Thoughts on Twitter post will cover how I handled not being overwhelmed by all the shiny, aka, my a-ha moment that gave me the ability to follow more tweeps without missing out on all of their fun tweets and possibly driving myself insane.

Also, please help me name this series, since, you know, I like to label stuff, and my “Thursday thoughts” category is more for insights from current events that inform my writing, whether to preview another blog post or work in progress.  Thanks!