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Scrooge Rules

TV Christmas Specials. They happen every year. I believe the first one actually airs TONIGHT. Which as far as I'm concerned is wayyyyy too early, but that's a post for another time. This one's about how I finally figured out why I find most of these shows so irritating.

It's because the underlying message is that if you don't fully embrace Christmas, you're a bad person.

Now, I'm not talking about Christian vs. Jew. This is not about the main religious message. Most of these shows don't focus on the birth of Jesus, so much as the hoopla surrounding it. No, these little made-for-TV movies are about something else. There's always a main character who's just not into Christmas. They just got divorced or widowed or broke up with their BF/GF, or they've had all the Christmas spirit sucked out of them by corporate America, or whatever. And there's another MC who's all about the Christmas spirit: All love and fellowship and pretty lights and happy songs. They clash, there's a crisis involving tradition vs. modern cynicism, the two MC's fall madly in love and the cynical one learns "the error of her (or his) ways". The finale involves kissing under the mistletoe, giving up plans to demolish the local orphans' home to build a shopping plaza, and everybody lives happily ever after. The message being that if you don't go absolutely ga-ga stupid over Christmas, you're obviously a nasty, soulless person, and that's why you do bad things. Whereas those who celebrate Christmas are happy-happy joy-joy and never hurt anybody. And Christmas magic will make everything all right.

I don't disagree with the message that greed is bad. I just think these shows are over-simplified. Life is not all black or white, either-or. All companies are not evil. All people who aren't into Christmas are not unhappy. And sometimes, people have a damn good reason not to get into the "spirit of the season."

Case in point: When my father died four days before Thanksgiving in 1998, it was like I was living in another reality, slightly removed from the real world. I could see it, hear it, take part in it, but it felt unreal and distanced. And that was the year I realized that I didn't HAVE to be happy at Christmas. I didn't have to join in the huge rush, didn't have to care, didn't have to try to live up to some store-window, snow-flocked fantasy of the Perfect Holiday. And guess what? That was the first time since I was a kid that, on Christmas Day, I didn't feel as though I had somehow failed to create perfection. I just did the best I could, my family exchanged gifts, had dinner together, cried a bit when my brother gave our mom the hand-made wooden box he had crafted to display the flag given to her at our father's funeral, and it was okay. I was more relaxed that Christmas than I had been for the previous three decades' worth. I had rejected the belief that, because it was Christmas, I was obligated to be happy, required to enjoy it.

So I really don't like those TV specials with their relentless insistence on happiness just because it's Christmastime. A lot of people have very good reasons to be down at Christmas. Illness, death in the family, failed marriage, loss of job, whatever it is, it shouldn't be dismissed as unimportant. Grief, especially, takes time. And you can't fix everything, you can't make all problems go away, by donning a red velvet hat with a pompom on the end of it and singing "Joy to the World."

WTF is the problem tumblr?????

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I try to look at "Recent" themes YOU LOCK UP. Screw you. Maybe I won't even bother using your site, since all the regular free themes are butt-ugly and all the nice ones cost money, which I don't know if I want to spend when a) I'm trying you out for the first time and b) you WON'T EVEN LET ME LOOK AT MOST OF THEM. Having no trouble on anybody else's website today, just yours. Jeeeez.

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I DOOD IT! :)

Yesterday, November 29th, I officially hit 50,000 words in NaNo! 50,206 to be exact! And now it's time to think about what I learned from this amazing experience.

First, I was right: I did it (40K+) once, or almost did, so I knew I could hit 50K. What a difference having that deadline made! I'm used to deadlines, having to keep to them at work, so being under the gun, so to speak, is technically nothing new for me. But setting a deadline of my own just didn't seem to motivate me. This was different, because I knew "someone" was keeping track. And they were encouraging me, telling me I could do it.

Second: WOW, outlines are GREAT! There was no sitting there wondering where to go next- I had a map! No, really, I had an actual map, but besides that I had laid out the basic events of the story, so each day when I sat down to write I knew where the characters had to go, what they wanted to accomplish, and at least part of how they were going to do it. A couple of times I got stuck because I hadn't imagined EXACTLY how they were going to do it, but I bulled through and kept going. I had put off writing this story because all the work I'd done on the outline had made the excitement fade. Forcing myself to write it anyway made all the difference. Sometimes the excitement isn't bubbling over; it's more like "wow, this is a chore, this is work, who suckered me into this?" :) Other times I couldn't wait to get back to the story. And since the story isn't finished at 50K+, thank gods for that outline, because I can keep on going, on my own time, and get this story finished.

Third? That would be the incredible realization that, if I can write 50K words in 30 days, well, holy sh*t, that means in 60 days, I could write 100K! In other words, in two months, I COULD WRITE A NOVEL. Start to finish. Oh sure, it would need revisions, but I would expect to do that anyway. I'm looking forward to doing that because you can bet there's a little padding in there...there were days when it took me a while to really get going, and there were some parts of the story that just weren't exciting to me, but they need to be in there....places where I needed a bridge between two more dynamic events, and so on. And some of that will come out during revisions.

Fourth: Is there crap? Sure. As CJ Cherryh said, "it's perfectly okay to write garbage....as long as you edit brilliantly." Now, I am in no way, shape or form the genius CJC is, but even I can spot the crapola in my own work...and delete it. :) And you know what totally amazed me? Some of the stuff I put in as "padding" is actually pretty good! So, yes, there is crap, but there is gold, as well (and not all in the padding).

Fifth: BIC, baby, BIC. For those who don't read Magical Words, that's "butt in chair." It's the only way to get it done. Knowing that I had to write every day or I'd never reach that magical 50K was, well, magic. "The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously." I can't remember who said that, but it's so true.

This book may never see the light of day. When I get to the end, I may decide to shelve it. It needs work. There are a couple of characters whose headspace I cannot seem to get into as much as I need to; there are missing pieces that I skipped over because I was seriously "stuck" and I knew they would hold me up and keep me from reaching 50K; there's a discrepancy that requires stripping out a bunch of paragraphs and rewriting them to make it all line up; I could go on, but the point is this isn't yet the book I imagined when that first, faint image appeared in my head, and it might never be. But not for lack of trying. I will finish the book, and do the revisions, and then let it rest for a bit while I work on other things. From reading Magical Words, I know the most important thing to do is Keep. Writing. Because I CAN DO IT!

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New Shinies for Old

Look, guys....I'm trying to prepare for NanoWriMo. I have seven people whose heads I have to get into so I can confidently write their story. I do not need to be distracted by shiny new people! Not now!!

Who am I kidding....There is no way to ignore these mysterious voices and faces, these unknown people who are jumping up and down, waving and yelling to get my attention. Once I start seeing faces...once I know their names....I'm screwed. I'm lost. They invade my daydreams and creep up on me when I least expect it, bugging the hell out of me to tell their stories.

And this is the tricky part: I want to know. I want to follow this new path, explore the weird places these guys are trying to drag me off to. I can sense bits and pieces of their stories, facets of their personalities; I had the first, faint sounds of a voice, the character's voice, this powerful, arrogant, tormented person who is both more, and less, than he seems to be. And I know something awful, horrible, painful and nasty happened to him, to make him who he is. If I pull that thread now, who knows what I'll unravel? This is supposed to be my build-up to NaNo. I have work to do, dammit! I want to be comfortable with the people I'll be writing about, familiar with their world, intrigued by their dilemma, caught up in their story. I want to, need to, be immersed in their world. And if I put anything down now about this new place, these new people, I stand a damn good chance of letting all the fizz out of the idea and losing interest in writing it later on. And yet, if I don't, how do I shush them long enough to get NaNo done?

Tell you what, guys. I'll make a deal with you. Stay back there, behind the curtains, peeking out now and then. Simmer away. Let me know where you are, what your world is like, what it is you're trying to do. Just keep it down a bit, OK? I promise you, I won't forget about you or ignore you. You'll get your turn, but frankly, you'll have to wait in line. Everybody can't be out front all at once, it messes up the story and confuses the audience...to say nothing of the writer!


I think I can do this...

...Because, for one thing, I've done it before. Most of it, that is.

I wrote something that's over 40,000 words long. It's not in the same world as the book I want to write for NanoWriMo, and it equals maybe half, or more likely one third, of a book as it stands. It needs fleshing out and probably revisions.

But the thing is, I DID this once already. I got that close! Over 40,000 words, and I wrote it by just deciding to see where the story went. I didn't write it for anyone but myself. I wanted to see what would happen, how far it went, what the characters did, and I knew it would make good practice. And if I did it once, I can, I hope, do it again, and go beyond it, to reach that magical 50,000 words. And beyond that, I hope, since I suspect this story may take more than 50,000. Most novels are longer than that.

I don't remember how long it took to get to that 40K. It was probably more than a month. It will take some hustling to get to 50K in 30 days, and I might not make it.

But I intend to try. If nothing else, I'll at least have the skeleton of a story, and I hope a lot of the meat!

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I blame the voices in my head...

...That, or too many repetitions of the soundtrack from "Game of Thrones."

I am doing NaNoWriMo this year. I need to push myself or this damn book will never get written. It's partly my own fault. I've got an outline done, worldbuilding details, character profiles, etc. I put so much work into all of that, that I killed my own excitement for this story. If I'm not excited by it, how could anyone else be?

But I keep coming back to it. I like the characters, dammit. Even if I still don't know what I'm going to do with one in particular, who invited herself into my head, thankyouverymuch. I've got her part plotted out, but her introduction scene just....falls flat. So that needs work.

I think what I did wrong was to write so much into the outline that I lost the fizz, so to speak. For me, part of the fun, and most of the mystery and wonder, of writing, is seeing what falls out of the pen--or in this case, out of the keyboard. Even when I plan out a scene, it rarely follows the plan exactly. That's the best part of writing...seeing what the characters come up with all on their own, the willful little buggers. I never know what they're going to do...or rather, I may know some of what, but never exactly how. They keep me guessing, they surprise me, one of them even outright lies to me (he's not in this book, thank the gods).

So here's the plan, such as it is: There are ten weeks, give or take a couple of days, before November 1st. I've identified ten things that I need to work on, ten things I need to have more or less straight in my head before I start to write, or should I say, start to rewrite, this book. I'll take one each week and spend that week living with it in my head, writing scenes using it, developing it, whatever you want to call it. Starting with the wells of power that play such a huge part in my story. I always feel as if there's something I'm not quite grasping, some fact that's not fully out in the light, and I have to know what it is. So that's first. Next week, I figure out more about how the magic of Cydon really works. The week after that, get to know the gods of Cydon, who I suspect are nothing like I first imagined them. Those are the big three; after that, it's the main and the "secondary" characters. Looking forward to that. Doesn't really matter what order I take them in, after the first three items.

And I am going to start writing this book AGAIN. I'll save the stuff I did at first, especially the prologue which I feel is important to understanding the story; and I'll keep the best bits for later incorporation into the book. But NaNo requires you start from scratch, and by hell, I'm gonna do that.

I might be crazy. But already I can feel the difference that having a deadline makes, and I have a magic spell that consists of two words: "The Book."

Every time I think that phrase, it seems more solid, more real. Gods bless me, please! Lady, may I ask your blessing? And.....off we go!

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Writer's Block: Songs of patriotism

If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?

People Are Strange, by The Doors

TWEET THIS!

Oh, so some kid got upset because Buffalo streets were supposedly deserted! Am I supposed to bloody care? It’s winter. It’s the northeastern US. It’s cold outside! We have two or three festivals every weekend from May thru November. What, we aren’t entitled to a rest? You were here during Christmas break: People were out of town, out shopping, or at home cooking and baking. You want dancing in the streets, come back in June.

You came here to play hockey, go play hockey! Or how about this: Use your imagination, look up from your damn cell phone once in a while, go down Elmwood, go to the movies. You don’t like it here, no big deal. Maybe I wouldn’t like it where you come from, either. We never claimed to be Party Town USA. This is a working-class town and you know what, some of us are tired by the end of the day.
 
And YES, newspaper columnists, we CAN ignore our critics. Why should we jump every time some out-of-towner says frog? We are what we are--we’re always being told to be proud of it. Well, guess what, I’m proud of staying home when it’s cold outside. We’re not all Eskimos around here. 

Somebody decides to bring a bunch of athletes here, fine, it's good for local businesses, nothing wrong with hockey, we love that sport here. But nowhere is it written that we have to fill the streets with people! I'm tired of everybody rushing to apologize when somebody writes something snippy about our city. Does it ever occur to anyone that maybe the critic was unrealistic or out-of-line?  


razziecat's name

Apparently there are a lot of people who use the name Razziecat....and they all come up if you do a Google search for that name. I am not affiliated with nor connected to anyone else using that name. I'll be changing my online name as soon as I can think of something I like and can easily remember!

A Tribute To Rocky

August, 1988 to February 4, 2009
Twenty years.
Way, way, way too short  a time.
How do you say goodbye to someone who's a been such a precious, beloved part of your life for 20 years? How do you stop looking at the place he used to sleep, expecting to see him there? How do you express the howling pain of having a piece of your soul ripped out of you?

Some people would say, hey, it's only a cat. To them, I say I pity you, because you have never known the sweet contentment of companionship offered by a living being who never judges your looks, your brains, your "coolness", or by any of the othe stupid things we humans judge each other. Animals only care how you treat them: with love and compassion, hopefully.

Rocky started life as one of a litter of seven kittens, born to a little feral cat we called Spook (because she was so easily spooked). He was very, very ill with a respiratory infection, and the vets didn't think he'd make it. But my mother and my sister stayed up all night with him, giving him medicine and a mix of baby food & water. He lived, and he was named Rocky because he had such a rocky start in life. And hell, like the movie character, he was a fighter!

He became a housecat, along with his brothers Leo, Spud and Alfred, and sisters Julie and Kelli. There was one other kitten out there who disappeared, so we were left with these six.

Over the years Rocky went through more medical crises than I can count. He survived an infected bite or claw mark (never did figure out who did that), more respiratory problems (the vet told us he would probably have them his entire life, and she was right). He had cardiomyopathy and was on heart medicine. In 2000-2001, he developed a condition that had his immune system attacking his teeth and gums. It made it almost impossible to eat. He had to have pain meds injected, which would improve things temporarily, then the pain would return and Rocky would eat almost nothing, not even baby food. He hated having his mouth touched because it hurt so much.

I remember the day the vet tried to give him a very expensive pill that we hoped would help. They muffled him in towels and used a "piller," a long plastic thing with a rubber grip on the end. You put the pill in the grip and push a plunger to pop the pill down the cat's throat. It sounds nasty but it's very quick and usually painless. But Rocky wasn't having any. The pill went in; there was a pause; and then he spat it out with such force, the pill ricocheted off of three walls and bounced into the corner. The vet knew when he was beaten!

We tried everything, until the only thing left was to have most of his teeth removed. He needed pain patches for a while after that. We even tried acupuncture. He was declining and developed diabetes from the steroids he was on. He went into the vet hospital and somehow, through the grace of Bast and the incredible dedication and care of the vets and technicians, he turned the corner, and became "an eating machine!" He gained back most of the weight he had lost and on he went!

In 2005-2006 he developed an ugly tumor on his flank. It grew larger and heavier until we had no choice but to have it removed. Rocky came through the anesthesia without any problems, testament to both his toughness and the doctor's skill. The tumor was malignant, and we knew they couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't come back.
In his last few years, he needed drugs to battle respiratory problems every few months. When he meowed, his voice, which had always been rough, came out in a breathy "WOW!" He took to vocalizing after he ate, or when he walked past one of the other cats. Every now and then, he would astonish us by racing out of the litter box. He loved to poke around inside the kitchen cupboards. His favorite place to sleep was against the furnace vent, with the warm air rushing over him.

Today he went home to Bast, gently and swiftly. He had developed a liver tumor that was causing severe respiratory distress. There was little that could be done even to make him comfortable, and the stress of going through it would have only made it worse. The vet, a man who has treated Rocky since the days of his mouth problems, gave me the facts with the compassion I have come to expect from him, and left the decision up to me as always. I made it knowing that it was the best I could do for him. But it is never easy. I have made this decision many times with cats over the years and each time, another piece of my soul gets wrenched from me. But if it saved him pain and suffering, then my pain is not important. Only the love matters. And his words should be remembered: "For a cat, every nap is a treasure, every meal is a feast. They don't worry about more than that."
A thousand, thousand memories live inside my heart, each one cherished. When he enters my dreams someday, as most of my little ones have done, I will have the gift of holding him one more time.

There is nothing sweeter, nothing more precious, nothing more worthwhile, than loving such an innocent and beautiful creature.

Never be ashamed of loving any living thing.

We love you, Rocky! Goodbye, little boy...

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razziecat
aka Silverglass

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