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I would buy a house. I mean, I own a house, so I might have to pay that one off first and rent it for a while, but I would buy a nice house. I already picked it out. It’s a three-bedroom house on 54 acres with a guest house and a bank barn that would make a great bar/rec room. There are horse stables, ponds, and a pole barn for Mike’s toys.

The inside of the house has built-in shelves, so I would have to buy more books. I already have a lot of books, but there’s a lot that I’ve been wanting to buy. I’d buy those.

And then, of course, I’d buy all the goodies for the bank barn.

I’d also buy an orange Camaro 2SS. I can’t decide on a convertible or not. But, let’s be honest, if I won the lotto, I could buy both. But I’d only buy one because you can’t drive them both at the same time anyway.

Then I’d buy an iMac. The big one with the 27″ screen to die for. I’d set it up in one of the fancy rooms in my fancy new house, and it would be the Writer Room. It would be mine. All mine.

I’d pay for doggie daycare and I wouldn’t work for a little while so that I could write a novel, go to the gym, and cook all day.

I’d also stock my walk-in closet (this house has one) with all the dresses I want from Modcloth.com. Maybe buy a pink retro stove even though this dream house (it actually exists–I found it) already has a shiny brand new stainless steel one.

I’d have a typewriter room. Maybe the guest house would be a typewriter house. That’s an idea!

The best part? I’d still have HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars left, even after taxes. I’d call that spending my money well, right?

One tiny problem: The odds are really low. Oh yeah, and I don’t even have a ticket. I’m not sure I even have odds.

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At a writing meeting a few weeks ago, one of the writers brought up the idea of writing the blurb before the book. It’s been over two weeks, so I can’t remember the context. Was it to focus your book? For fun? To have something to look forward to, those few paragraphs of words on the back of a book jacket?

I don’t remember the point, but I thought it would be a fun exercise. So I wrote three. Some are real, some are fake. The ones that are fake I am thinking of writing anyhow. Can you guess the fake one(s)? (I am going to assume yes, since it is obvious to me.) If you picked up each of these books, which one would you be more likely to read? What in the blurb confuses you?

It’s amazing how hard writing these was. If you think blurbs are easy, you’re kidding yourself. That, or you’re very good at condensing information. Would you try it?

For me, the hardest part was deciding what points were important. The blurb is what draws you in. I’m a sucker for blurbs–sometimes the blurb is interesting enough to make me want to read the whole story, even once I’ve decided the story is bad. Awful. But there might have been a whisper of promise in the blurb, and I have to stick around to find out.

Blurbs are impossible to balance, and after this exercise, I now know why there are writers who write only blurbs. I’m not sure I could sit comfortably knowing I had to write blurbs for the rest of my life.

Blurbs are behind the cut. Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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Alright, maybe the universe didn’t give me donuts. My new insurance guy gave me donuts (Fractured Prune donuts, which if you’ve ever had, you know are addictive and dangerous, as demonstrated by my empty box).

The universe has given me a lot of things, though.

I believe in fate. I believe in the universe giving you things–good and bad. And maybe the universe doesn’t give you much, but it talks to you, and tells you how to get things for yourself. Sometimes it gives you words of encouragement to step forward and have hope and enjoy the days. You just have to listen.

For instance, I’ve had a few bad days here and there. Just crappy days where I can’t wait to get home and sit on the couch and zone out until the next day. And on those days, the universe has thrown me a bone. A phone call, or a message from an old friend, or something found that just says, “I’m looking out for you. Hold on tight.”

Likewise, if I act selfish, or rude… It stops. The universe doesn’t throw me a bone. It turns a cold shoulder and… that’s it.

I have two examples.

I had a bad day one day. It wasn’t an awful day but I was frustrated and couldn’t wait to get home. And I had to take the bus, and I missed my first bus, and I had a pile of dishes I knew was waiting for me when I got home. As soon as I stepped off the bus, I realized I had no more tickets and I’d have to take the extra time to buy them, but that was a good thing. Because as I walked past the bus schedule, which I never looked at before, and there was an envelope on it. And I stopped and looked around at all the people rushing by with their heads down and pretending that each other don’t exist. I’m not sure they even processed the fact that they’d reached to their destination–they were on autopilot, probably like they are every day. But I saw this envelope and I stopped, because I was confused. And wondered who it was for, and then I saw that on the front of the envelope were written the words, “Random Act of Kindness.” There was a little praying angel on the front and it had two pieces of tape–one on the top, one on the bottom, probably packing tape–and the handwriting was bubbly, red sharpie. So I pulled it off, and I opened it up and there was a 10-dollar bill. It’s only $10. But $10 is a lot. And it made my day and the envelope and the money are still sitting on my kitchen counter because it feels wrong to use it, somehow, but it’s nice to have sitting there.

Another story.

Just the other day I got in the car and the moment I got in I told Mike, “Nothing’s going to change. I’m going to be stuck where I am forever.” And he told me no, that’s not true. And while it didn’t make me feel better, it was nice of him to say so, so we went on our way home and he went to work outside and I went to get things ready for the gym. And as I was sipping on my banana milk, I got a phone call. And it didn’t change anything, and nothing’s changed because of it, but it doesn’t matter. The universe sent me a little reminder to have faith and be patient and keep trying for things.

Eventually it will work out.

So you should try listening to the universe more and have faith that it–or someone, if that’s you–is looking out for you. I know I do. And it’s just nice to know it’ll keep you in line too.

I got two new books today (and a Hunger Games t-shirt, but that’s off topic). I went to Barnes and Noble to buy a copy of the AP style book as well as some editing/grammar books, but I tend to wander off and find other things instead. I didn’t like any of the grammar books they had–the ones I liked I either have or I have ones that are cooler–and I figured spending $23 for the AP style book when I can spend $25 for a membership, read all of the same content online and receive updates as they happen throughout the year… Well, that’s a no-brainer. Sometime tonight I’ll be coughing up $25 to the Associated Press to tell me how to spell words and where to put my commas.

Back to the topic at hand. I bought two books. The first, The 3 A.M. Epihpany, seems interesting enough. It’s a book of prompts/writing exercises, and a little bit of talk in between. Some of the prompts seem interesting, but I will have to poke around a bit before deciding for sure. And if it doesn’t work out, I might return it–I’m awful and do things like that sometimes.

The other one, however, is a lovely little nugget of wisdom that I wasn’t expecting. The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron.

The prompts are alright, standard but something to get you going. I haven’t read much of it, just glanced through the first few pages, where I stumbled upon the following heading:

The Procrastinator

Well, I was going to keep flipping through, eager to find a prompt to kick me out of this slump, but then I started to read.

It tells you exactly what you would think. There are a few personalities–or personality traits, depending on how you think of your other selves–that get in the way of your writing. He lists the procrastinator, the victim, the talker, the critic, the judge, the author, and the capricious guest.

Now, I’ve only read four of them, but three of those four seem to apply to me. And he makes valid points. Boy, does he.

The Procrastinator is probably the worst, though I’ve come to find that the Talker might be a silent enemy that I thought was a friend. The kind that helps you get a job, but purposefully gets you drunk in front of your boss so that you don’t have one the next day. (This has never happened to me. I don’t know why it crossed my mind, even. I think it was a stretch, and just my way of trying to skip the story about the best friend who falls in love with your man and steals him out from under you. Literally. Side note: This has also never happened to me. Have I ever mentioned that I love fiction because it’s full of lies? Now you know.)

The Procrastinator is that voice that says, “I will start tomorrow. Monday. Next week.” And then nothing ever happens.

You know what?

I’m procrastinating right now.

I started writing up a story that took me all day to think up. Do you know how hard it is when all of your ideas are stranded in a notebook 50 miles away while you’re at home with the television, a bottle of wine and two dogs?

So I started writing, but then I got scared and here I am, writing about procrastinating–the one thing I shouldn’t be doing.

The advice for dealing with this self is pretty simple.

Don’t. Do. It.

You will never do something if you keep putting it off till tomorrow. Trust me, I know. It’ll happen, but it will happen late and might be disappointing, sometimes like crushes are. Go through with it when you feel the passion, the moment, the desire to take one step forward and not look back till you’re through.

If you’re going on a diet tomorrow, why not start for dinner? If you’re writing a book by the end of April, why not start writing that book today?

It will save a lot of anxiety.

Originally this post was going to be about writing for an audience, for good or for bad. As you may have noticed, I get off track. I’ll get to that later though–that’s something that’s giving the Procrastinator a good excuse to finish this story “later.”

“No!” I say.

And now I’m off.

I struggle with deciding on a topic to write. I do it often. For this blog, for an email, in a book. Well, not in an outlined book, but if there are two short stories that I want to write and I love them both equally, how should I choose?

I think that’s why a lot of people don’t outline stories. It’s too much of a choice. You’ve pinned yourself to an option, whereas if you’re a pantser, you’re making the choice only when there’s nowhere else to go.

I disagree.

Here’s a secret I’ve learned about outlines:

They’re more like a particularly faded map that you might have spilled coffee on so that the lines bleed together, your dog probably chewed up the right corner, and oh crap I thought we were going to Michigan, not Maine. Not to mention you can’t tell if that’s a mountain or a sandpit.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I love my outline. She shows me where to go, and she knows the heavy plot points and when someone needs to run. I think I’ll name her Ethel.

But she doesn’t know everything, and sometimes I have to redraw the lines, but only in mechanical pencil in case I have to erase them again. And that moment is beautiful.

It’s the moment when you’re thinking about one thing and all of a sudden, the solution to another thing comes to you. I’ve had two of these ah-ha moments, one a few months ago when the ending finally sank in, and the other one yesterday when the beginning rearranged itself into a completed rubix cube.

And this is why I think editing is wonderful. I still have a destination and the lines to get me there, but by those subtle shifts, motivations and passions change. They become alive.

Go get an outline today at your nearest Target!

JK, you have to write those, but I also really love Target.

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