Monday, August 14, 2017

Five Lessons Trains Taught Me About Writing

1) I Think I Can, I Think I Can


We always need to believe in ourselves. If we think we can, we just might be able to accomplish what seems impossible; and if we're convinced we can't, we are 100% guaranteed to  fulfill our prediction of failure.


2) Refueling on a Long Journey Is Always Necessary

Writing long-term, is a marathon, not a sprint. Amtrak, not Metro. Modern trains need diesel refueling; steam trains need coal and water.
via Wikimedia Commons
We need to read books, watch movies and trashy reality shows, hang out with friends, spend some quality time with our family, lovers, and vibrators. Whatever fills us up and makes us feel ready to steam on, we need to reserve space and time to do that.



3) The Journey Can Be a Dirty, Messy, Exhausting Process


In every generation, there are are whiners; people who are outraged that, considering how marvelous they are, they must reduce themselves to XYZ indignity to put food on the table or to earn success as a writer.

In 19th century America, some complained about how wearying a train journey was; the enervating effects of hours on a train, the coal dust upon one's clothing, the inferior food en route. Of course, trains were still easier than walking, taking a sea journey, or a covered wagon. Better yet, there was always staying at home.



Strasburg RR, via Wikimedia Commons
See that dark smoke drifting back? Yep, it'll get on you.
To embark on a transcontinental voyage, by whatever means, we had to want it. If we did, we accepted the reality that more than likely, bad shit was gonna happen along the way.

Suck it up, Buttercup. Every writer has always had to make sacrifices and/or accommodations to suit the needs of his or her era. In the current market, success as a writer requires Social Media and a lot of hard work, rejection and criticism.

Don't like it? Don't board the train, then.


4) Always Have Another Engine Ready To Go in the Roundhouse


If one train gets stuck, is that it? Are we going to just roll over and abandon the dream?

Oh, hell no! We're going to rev up another engine and get it out there.

Roundhouse
via Cliff1066 via Flickr Creative Commons 
We should always have more than one project, at the very least in an embryonic stage, in our heads. Because aren't we thinking of new ideas all the time? Write 'em on a steno pad; dictate them to a voice recorder, take e-notes via Evernote or some other gadget, but we need to capture many, many ideas, and develop them as time allows.


5) You Always Need A Cowcatcher


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Adventures with Formatting #kickingcancersass

Book Pregnant is the very clever term coined by a group of bloggers, to indicate that stage where an author is almost ready to launch their work into the world.

Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n Roll, and a Tiara is pressing on my bladder, kicking me in the kidney... Really, I SO feel ready to pop this baby out.

Except, some problems came up with formatting for my pictures. And my captions. And the oh-so-clever links to Spotify I inserted at the top of each chapter.

I have a formatting genius helping me with these issues, but in the meantime, in honor of it being two years ago this week that I started the radiation part of my cancer journey, here's an excerpt from the chapter titled:

Joe Manganiello Needs to Stop Following Me.


It's a fine thing when you go to meet your radiation oncologist, and everywhere you turn, Joe Manganiello is giving you that "Hey Baby!" look.
Sadly, Joe wasn't there in person. Just his impressive biceps and artfully scruffy face, all flirty from the cover of WebMD. There had to be at least two dozen copies strewn about the large, comfortable waiting room.



It felt like his eyes were following and undressing me.
Do you want to see my boobs, too, Joe? Why not? Everyone else has...

...I was eager to get the radiation started, get it over with. That wasn't going to happen.
The next step was coming in, a week later, to do a radiation simulation with the radiology techs. Basically a dry run to troubleshoot any problems and make sure once the actual zapping began, that it would be quick and easy.  I lay down on the long table thingie that would slide in and out of the hole in the big round tube. Yeah, not so vaguely sexual.
The machine was called TomoTherapy... 


Peter, the tech, used a CT scan to get me into the correct position, then used a device that blew Styrofoam into a mold that would hold my back at the precise angle so that Tommy could zap Laverne and only Laverne. Then he turned on laser guide lights, got out a tattoo gun, and made three markings on my chest, below my boobage, right, left, and center, for future lineups. I was hoping for butterflies or something fun, but all I got were three tiny black dots.

This is one of my radiation tats.

There was a hand-grip thing above my head. Peter had me grip it with both hands, then frowned. "That's not going to work." It brought Laverne into the correct position, which was good but also brought Shirley into the line of fire. So he had me turn my left arm down to my side. That almost worked.
Peter frowned again. "We're going to have to tape your left breast down to get it out of the way. Is that okay with you?" After all I had gone through so far, was I going to quibble about a little medical tape? Of course not.
I also had to turn my head a certain way with a roll of surgical tape tucked under my chin. So, one hand above my head, the other at my side, my head turned... Glad Joe M wasn't watching this part; it wasn't a particularly sexy pose. It was like I was playing a solo game of Radiation Twister.
There's more, but I'm hoping you'll read the whole thing. Also, there's music. Below is the mini-playlist for this chapter, which you can click and play right here, if you like.  (I'm all about consent.)

Fight The Good Fight is the song I assigned to my journey as a whole, and as a ringtone, to all my doctors.  Buster Voodoo - well, a lot of cancer treatment reminds me of voodoo magic. I don't have to explain Radiation Vibe, do I?


.

If you want to add Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n Roll, and a Tiara to your Goodreads TBR list, that would be very cool. If you'd like a review copy, and we haven't already discussed this, leave a comment below (make sure your profile links to something so I can track you down!), because that would be even MORE awesome. Better even than Radiation Twister.

Thanks! Stay sexy, and healthy!