In which I witter without result

I hate to bore you with my entirely trivial dilemma, but I need to type-talk this through. Besides, I’m sure if you reach deep, deep down you’ll realize that you’re far more interested than you feel on the surface.

(Plus, I’m also confident in your skills at clicky-clicking your way elsewhere if you’d rather be reading, for example, some cool stuff about pigs or looking for some delicious words to add to your collection. )

My struggle, for those who haven’t exercised the clicky-click option (and bless you for that), is whether or not to participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year. On the one hand, there’s the stalled novel languishing in the wings, moaning and wailing like a cheesy actress in an old melodrama, starved for attention, and in dire need of a complete makeover.

On the other hand, fun! Bloody hard work and all kinds of pitiful angstification and tearing out of hair, but fun nonetheless.

Labour-Briareus

Hecatoncheir

On the other hand (we’re back to the first hand here, don’t worry, I haven’t morphed into a Hecatoncheir or anything), how am I going to accomplish anything else in April, a month that’s already overflowing with work and home projects, staff meetings, and a stack of reading to catch up on for my (defunct) book club reunion? By any sane person’s reckoning, there are already great whacks of stuff on my to-do plate without adding the gravy of A to Z.

On the other hand (yep, back to hand number two, obviously I chose the wrong idiom, thanks for noticing) fun! New people! Reconnecting! Regular blogging! And did I mention fun?!

You can see my problem. Diligence or insanity? It’s a poser alright. Maybe I’ll have made my mind up by the time the deadline rolls around…

A to Z Challenge: Befunky & Best of Craigslist

During the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge I’ll be posting what  I like to describe as “semi-useful” procrastination strategies for writers and other time-wasters. Not that I’m saying that all writers are time-wasters, of course, but let’s face it, fellow writers, when we’re slogging through the second half of that obstinate novel or revising the startlingly abysmal first draft, sometimes we do hunger for a few moments (or hours) of distraction, and sometimes those distractions even turn out to be (semi-) useful. 

Two links today, The first really is just an amusing option for whiling away time that could no doubt be better spent writing a short story about The Cocker Spaniel Who Ate the Tundra. The second, although equally amusing, might actually provide inspiration for a story.

  • Befunky: This free online photo editor is a total time suck, but so much fun. Just upload any photo or image, and then edit it to the point of no recognition. You can sharpen, blur, recolour, crop, create shadow, add text, throw in special effects, whatever your little heart desires. For example, this is how I prettied up my Twitter user pic, wasting only a scant ten minutes (and, yes, I’m well aware that the original is superior in every way, but that’s hardly the point):

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  • Second up, if you’ve come to a block in the writing road, you cannot go wrong with bestofcraigslist. Updated regularly, this is a list of the funniest, weirdest, most tasteless postings on the craigslist site. You have to be careful about the links you click on if you’re easily offended, but it’s definitely worth a visit, and it’s pretty much impossible not to find the fuel for at least one story or dinner party anecdote while you’re there. Case in point, a post from March 5 this year: ,

Wanted: Mule named Sal

Looking for a mule named Sal to travel to Buffalo on the Erie Canal.

Must be a good ol’ worker and and a great ol’ pal.

Name is non-negotiable.

There are some terrific bloggers participating in the challenge this year. Check them out over here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Animal sounds

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I’ve hemmed and hawed about participating in the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge for months now. On the plus side, it was tons of fun last year until I fell and banged my head on the sidewalk, at which point it became considerably less fun and a whole lot more work, and eventually a group of online friends came to to my rescue. As I say, though, I had a great time until then and met all kinds of lovely people. On the down side, I’ve been slacking on the fiction writing and had decided that if I’m going to devote writing energy to anything, it really should be in that direction.

As it happens, I rarely listen to myself when I’m being practical. A few days ago I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, committing to write myself 30,000 words closer to the end of my novel-in-progress. That should, in fact, take me to the end of the first draft, or, as it’s affectionately known, the vomit draft. And that would have been that, except for the fact that this afternoon when I was lolling about feeling sick and feverish and procrastinating getting started on my first thousand words,  it occurred to me that the A-to-Z wouldn’t be nearly as much work if I could only come up with a theme that lends itself to short, pithy posts.

This led to a marathon session of web surfing (to get the creative juices flowing, don’t you know) and then, wham! Out of the blue! My theme! What could be more apropos than an A to Z of semi-useful procrastination strategies for writers and other time-wasters?

First up, it’s A for Animal Sounds, for which I offer the following links of unadulterated awesomeness:

  • Have you ever wondered what a grey tree frog sounds like? Have you wondered whether there’s any difference between the way a grey tree frog in West Virginia sounds as compared to, say, a grey tree frog in New Brunswick? Well, the Macaulay Library at Cornell University has an enormous, searchable online database of animal sounds that will answer those very questions for you. The have 19 different audio recording of grey tree frogs, to be precise. And not just tree frogs. Oh, no. The library has “175,000 audio recordings covering 75 percent of the world’s bird species, with an ever increasing numbers of insect, fish, frog, and mammal recordings as well.” It’s ear-poppingly fabulous!
  • But, you say, actually I’d find it more helpful for the particular story I’m writing if I knew how a Turk might pronounce the sound of a crow cawing. Do not despair, procrastinator. I have that link too! If you need to know how certain common animal sounds are pronounced in seventeen languages, look no further than the Derek Abbott’s Animal Noise Page on the University of Adelaide website. (According to Derek, the Turkish pronunciation of crow caws would be gaak, gaak.)

What did I tell you? Awesome, right? If you write anything–poetry, short stories, novels, travelogues, a blog, letters to your Aunt Gert–there’s no way these sites can’t be considered research. This is what I mean by “semi-useful” procrastination strategies–strategies that, in a pinch, can be justified as a productive use of time. Kind of. Sort of. If you squint and don’t mind being thought of as delusional.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more delightful time-wasters research options for your delectation.

The Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest

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The Re-Introduce Myself blogfest is hosted by Mark KoopmansElise FallsonC.M. Brown, and Stephen Tremp. If you want to join in, you can find the sign up and list of participants HERE.

Hello, dear bloggy friends. It’s time for the Reintroduction blogfest, and here I am typically tongue-tied when it comes to talking about myself. The abbreviated version of everything that matters about the public me is this: I write, I read, and I’m outrageously fond of the elasticity and head-spinny malleability of the written word.

I know at some point in this writing life I’m going to have to get comfortable with composing my own bio, but I’m going to go with Scarlet on that one and put off that grim task until tomorrow (or thereabouts).  In the meantime, I’m going to allow my dear friend Jo-Anne Teal entertain you with the fake (or is it?) bio she created on the about page of my blog.

Captured within her fantastical statements are four things that are true (although one of them is more figuratively than literally true)  and one thing that I very much wish were true. A $10 Amazon gift certificate for anyone who can pin down the truthiness and wishiness in the comments.

Rumour has it that Odd Particle lives in a vivid world of ‘hair raising’ vacuums. She sleeps at night and creeps aimlessly about during the day to avoid detection in the ‘real’ world. Odd Particle is also rumoured to love parentheses, gin and tonics and buy-one/get-one-free days at the local mall, though not necessarily in that order.

Favourite colour is plaid but she spells it b-l-u-e. Favourite folk singer is Arlo Guthrie’s Aunt Gertie. Favourite day of the week is yesterday. She was arrested once for boarding public transit and randomly calling out incorrect bus stops.

What does she look like? Well apparently, with the panda eyeliner, platinum-blonde hair and mirrored aviator glasses, even Kern herself doesn’t know.

Fascinating! If you see her, remember she will try to overwhelm you with fringe-based political arguments. You are asked to stand well back as Odd Particle is able to disarm even the most seasoned gunslinger with one swing of her massive purse.