Weekly Writing Inspiration: May 3, 2013

I’m a little bit late getting around to this post this week but I’ve been a bit busier than I anticipated. Still, there is inspiration to be found everywhere and I want to take a moment to share that with you.

  1. New clients. Oh how I love the sweetness of getting a new client! It’s exciting. It’s full of potential. Things haven’t gone horribly, horribly wrong. Not that I’m saying things typically go wrong with my clients, but the thrill of new prospects keeps me focused and engaged in my work. All of my work. Old projects and new.

    writing inspiration

    Source: Alan Cleaver

  2. Taking risks. Going out on a limb. Plunging off the precipice. However you want to phrase it, embarking on new things is exciting. This is sort of related to number one on this list but it doesn’t have to do with clients per se. It’s more about my own efforts to expand my business and brand. Sorry for the vaguery, but I’ll offer more details as I have them. In short: I’m excited.
  3. Awesome talks that are awesome by Neil Gaiman. Seriously, stop what you’re doing and watch this video right now I’ll wait. Did you watch it? If you did you should be filled with a warm fuzzy sensation that spreads from the top of your head, down to your fingertips and out through your toes. This sensation is likely caused by microscopic kittens twitching their whiskers. The video is from a commencement address Gaiman gave at the University of the Arts in 2012. It’s called “Make Good Art,” and it’s actually being released as a book soon. I may need to buy this. 

And off we go into another weekend. What’s inspired you this week? Anything I should know about?

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New blog, new perspective

I realize it’s been forever and a day since I last posted here. Since my last post, I had a baby and I’m still struggling to find the right balance between taking care of her, getting work done, and pursuing my own creative endeavors. I’m not even going to pretend like I have it all figured out right now because I don’t. However, I am starting to feel a bit better about things now that the little one is over four months old. Getting past that newborn stage was rough but I think we’re all stronger for it now in the Barron household.

One thing that I am starting to do is pursue more personal writing. Yes, I have written about personal subjects here at The Inkwell, but there is a specific aspect of my life that never felt appropriate to discuss here. So, I’ve started a new blog to deal specifically with that topic. You can find it at There Was a Shopping Cart in My Bedroom. This blog goes into detail about my childhood and growing with hoarders. It will also cover some of the anxiety issues and other problems I face as result of my upbringing. At the moment, I anticipate to be posting more on that blog than here. However, I do have some new and exciting content lined up for The Inkwell as well. This has always been first and foremost a writing blog and I am endeavoring to keep it that way.

So, if you’d like to follow the more personal side of my life, feel free to leave a comment over there. I’d love to hear what you think about this new direction. I’m also considering writing some essays and trying to sell them to publications. I really don’t know why I didn’t feel like I could write openly about this subject before but I think having my daughter made something click in my brain and I’m feeling more confident about being myself. I think I owe that much to her.

The Time Has Come to Clean All the Things

Sorry for my lack of posting the past two weeks. It always feels like a cheap excuse to say I’ve been too busy to blog, because what does “too busy” mean, anyway? Still, I’ve felt too busy and neglected my poor Inkwell. For shame!

I thought I’d give you a quick update on what I’ve been up to the past two weeks. Not much writing has happened, let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. I have made some progress on editing Dr. Fantastic. I’m still in the first half of the book where the plot holds together well. But I’ve got my eye on the horizon and there’s a clusterfuck approaching, I just know it.

Other than that and my day job work, all we’ve been doing around here is cleaning, organizing, and painting. We have a lot of crap, yo. I mean, “holy hell, why did I buy this, what is this used for,” kind of crap. We also have a lot of stuff that’s been destroyed by the cats. Or mildew. Or cats and mildew.

In short, we’ve thrown out numerous bags of trash and junk. Unfortunately, this included almost our entire VHS collection. The tape within each cassette was encrusted with a white powdery mold. Living near the ocean or in humid climates, sucks! We also bought a bunch of storage boxes to replace old ones that had been, you guessed it, destroyed by cats and/or mold. I’m hopeful that these boxes will be longer lasting since they are not A.) Cardboard or B.) Fabric. These are smooth-coated paper boxes that don’t seem to interest the cats texturally and can be easily wiped off. Woo hoo! Organizing my desk involved throwing away a ton of paperwork. I’d venture to say a metric shit-ton, much of it from high school and college. Why was I keeping these things?

Amidst all of this, Matt painted the bathroom, which, as you might have guessed, was also coated in a lovely layer of mold. But it’s primed and sealed and painted now. Should last us until we move into a new place. Oh, and we decided to paint it yellow to offset the uglier than hell shower which is some kind of sickly off-white with blue-gray streaks in it. It’s not even egg shell white, it’s like if dingy was a color.

The yellow is really yellow. I’m officially calling it Motherfucking Yellow, because that’s the only intensifier that lets you know exactly how yellow it is. The sun is in our bathroom, and it is Behr paint called Center Stage. Seriously. Go look it up. It’s damned yellow.

I know it’s not advisable to try to “do all the things” as a part of the Unfuck Your Habitat plan, but I’m pregnant and I’ve got a sense of urgency thrown into the mix here. I’ve never felt the pressure more to get stuff done. That’s got to be a good thing, right?

Wish I had more time for writing. I know, I know. Make the time. I’m trying, I swear.

The Stories I Will Tell My Child

“We’ll eat you up, we love you so.”

So say the Wild Things in Where the Wild Things Are when Max is leaving the land of rumpuses and heading back home. Upon hearing the news that Maurice Sendak died, my first thought was about how I’d be reading this story to my daughter once she’s old enough. How important it is for both Matt and I to pass on the things we loved as children to our little girl. And I was filled with a sense of sadness at life and the ends of things and how happiness is only fleeting.

Yes, I waxed philosophical. I can’t help it. Everything makes me think about my soon-to-be-new role as a mom. And it terrifies me and excites me and makes me want to be better in every possible way. I wonder will I be good enough? Will she hate me? WIll she think back on her childhood when she’s an adult and think, “Hey, my parents did they best they could”?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I know one thing for certain. I’ll be reading Where the Wild Things Are, and A Wrinkle in Time, and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Matt will read her The Hobbit, and The Stinky Cheese Man, and The Velveteen Rabbit. And our daughter will know and love books and stories and the imaginary worlds where the impossible, for just one moment, seems possible.

We’ll do that part right. I know it.

The TARDIS Fetus – A Conversation

I had a midwife appointment yesterday, which I know sounds terribly exciting to you all. But that’s not the purpose of this post. Rather, it helps set the scene, the mood, if you will.

After learning all sorts of things about breaking waters, baby poop, and funduses (fundi?) we ate dinner at an awesome burger place because it was free burger night and seriously, who can pass up a freakin’ free burger?

So we’re eating and discussing our ultrasound appointment next week and how excited we are to find out if it’s a boy or girl. Of course the “anatomy scan” is done to make sure the baby is healthy, that it’s heart is doing okay, etc. The following conversation is what transpired:

Me: The scan will show how the baby’s heart is doing and stuff.

Matt: What if it has two hearts? OMG, what if it’s a Timelord?!

Me: That would be awesome.

Matt: I don’t know, it might be bad. Do you really want a Timelord in there?

Me: Yeah, you don’t want it regenerating. I mean, ouch.

Matt: Why would it need to regenerate in the womb?

Me: I don’t know. It might! Still, River Song was sort of a Timelord and she was birthed normally.

Matt: That’s true.

Me: So, it’d still be awesome.

Matt: Are we actually having this conversation?

As if there were every any doubt, we are such nerds.

UFYH, Or “I’m Making My Life Better, Damnit!”

This post might be a bit off topic in the sense that it doesn’t relate directly to writing. However, what I’m going to talk about directly affects my ability to be a writer.

Like many creative people I know, I have trouble keeping my shit together. That is, the sink will fill with dirty dishes. The bed will lay unmade. The floor unswept, the clothes stuffed in a laundry basket after being washed, etc, etc.

I recently stumbled upon this thing called UFYH or Unfuck Your Habitat and it’s seriously changed how I view being an adult. Before, I thought I had to do ALL THE THINGS ALL AT ONCE and if I didn’t manage to do that (which I never would), I’d be OMG THE BIGGEST FAILURE EVER. In the past, I’d usually hit a tipping point in terms of cleanliness. I’d trip over the pile of clothes on the floor one too many times. The kitchen would smell. I’d walk into the living room and see clutter everywhere and sigh just a little too loudly.

My typical reaction in these cases was to scurry about the house and try to clean up weeks’ worth of mess in a few hours. And I’d not only fail, but I’d exhaust myself on the notion of cleaning. Process repeat.

With UFYH, I’ve learned that setting aside even 10 minutes a day to clean up one thing is a BIG DEAL when you’re a person like me. 10 minutes a day of cleaning is doable, won’t leave me exhausted, and does leave me with a sense of accomplishment. Lately, my chosen task has been making the bed every day. It only takes a few minutes, but damn if the bedroom doesn’t look better. It says, “a grown up lives here” not “an unkempt teenager passes out here.”

I still haven’t mastered putting away the dishes or hanging up the laundry right away. But my aforementioned tipping point happens a lot faster now. Another thing that’s been helping a lot is making to-do lists. It’s going to sound crazy, but putting things like “Make bed,” or “Wipe counters,” on my to-do list helps a ton! Plus, I get that crazy satisfaction of checking that shit off when I’ve completed it.

This weekend, Matt and I worked on scrubbing the tub. If you follow me on Twitter, you likely saw me bitching about my hip and I think that’s how I injured myself. Even so, most of the tub is clean now. Seriously, I forgot what color it was supposed to be. It took some serious, get on your hands and knees and use some elbow grease, but it got done.

And this brings me back to writing (I told you it was related). I find it impossible to write when I’m distracted by mess. The clutter and mess can leave me paralyzed. By tackling a little bit at a time and using to-do lists, I’m conquering the clutter and seeing my productivity rise. This is necessary, ya’ll, because I need to make money (cooking a baby in my belly, yo) and I need to finish some of my creative projects. Because when I don’t use creative outlets, I get even crazier than I normally am. And trust me folks, that’s not a good look.

l’ll probably write more posts about UFYH because it’s awesome and it’s helping me. In any case, I just wanted to share this nifty thing with you all. Would you be interested in knowing more things I’ve been doing to cope with being a real-live grownup? Do any of you struggle with these same issues?

The Supermarket After Dark: Cleanup on Aisle Everywhere

Like usual, Matt and I forgot to get some things from the supermarket. Namely, cat food. Those fur-balls really pitch a fit when you forget to give them their wet slop and nuzzle and purr until you scream, “Okay, I love you, too, I’ll feed you god dammit just quit slobbering on my ear!”

It’s about 9:30 and we trek over to the market. I say trek like it’s a million miles away and we’re about to dump the ring in Mount Doom or something, but seriously, driving a block after dinner is like trying to roll a boulder uphill. That shit’s laborious.

Run past the carts with your head down.

So we get to the market and make our way to the pet food aisle. We have a solid set of rules when venturing into Ralph’s after the sun’s gone down: get in, get out, don’t make eye contact, and avoid the people who talk to themselves. It sounds simple, but as I said earlier, It’s a trek and treks, as I also mentioned earlier, are laborious, so of course it wouldn’t be that easy.

We scan the broad selection of Friskies cat food, looking for the preferred disgusting meat concoction for our kitties. Yes, they have a preference, if not in flavor, then in texture. So, we’re scouring through salmon, beef, and tuna & egg–the personal favorite of my gag reflex–and come across a can of chicken a la the Savory Shreds variety. “Those cats are going to be excited as hell,” Matt says and I nod in agreement like we’re making a life-changing decision.

Then, our eyes fall on it at the same time. It’s Friskies, all right, but the labeling has changed. There’s swirls and motifs all over the can. To top it off, there’s a delighted orange tabby raising a paw as if to waft those swirls carrying fishy heaven closer to his nostrils to really take in the aroma. They’re flavor swirls, and I’m telling you: they’re downright whimsical.

We grab the same can, oblivious to the fact that Friskies’ damn marketing plan has worked. Whimsy sells, and we load up the cart with multi-colored cans. There’s swirls and decorative outlines of fish and cows and chickens tempting that tabby. We grab all sorts of flavors, just so long as they’ve got flourishes and shit. By the time we’re done, we’ve got a barnyard in our cart and we dontevencare.

But let me tell you something disturbing. One of the cans said Friskies with Chicken and Gravy. WITH! Do I need to emphasize that more? WITH!! 

Mmm-mmm. Nothing like Frisky shreds.

What the hell does that mean? I was under the impression my cats were chowing down on chicken shreds in gravy. But apparently I was mistaken. They’ve been lapping up Friskies and the manufacturers have been so kind as to add chicken and some gravy to the mystery stew out of the kindness of their hearts. Here’s my question:

What the fuck is a frisky?

Whoa! I know, right? Did I just blow your mind? I thought so.

Now that your life won’t ever be the same, allow me to move on and tell you about the rest of the supermarket experience…

We start wandering about the store like a pair of lost children looking for some sort of sugary snack to take home and devour on a Thursday night, because that’s how awesome we are. Then I hear it.

I pause in my tracks and turn my head to the side trying to listen. Matt hears it too and our eyes go wide in horror, but not in surprise. Because we live in Huntington Beach, deep into the O.C. That high-pitched drone coming from a few aisles over can be one thing and one thing alone: high school girls.

We try to keep our cool, even though our first instinct is to run. We examine the ice cream as a distraction. It was so picked over Matt nearly lost his arm in the back of the freezer trying to get some damn strawberry cheesecake ice cream. That’s what we’d do for you Ben & Jerry’s! Your ice cream is like crack and we are your junky addicts, willing to lose an arm to frostbite for just another creamy spoonful! But I digress.

The laughing gets louder. One voice squeals above the rest. She can’t stop chuckling about something. She’s about to have an aneurism. I just know it. And then the girls round the corner. They giggle like a pack of hyenas and even though their screeching laughter is enough to make me want to stick my head in the freezer, and slam the door repeatedly on my temples, I don’t. Because then they would win. And I can’t allow that to happen–as an American.

Like, oh my god, hahahah, like, hahahaha, *snort* huh?

The Sweatpants and Hoodie Hyenas saunter off. The laughter fades and we both breathe a sigh of relief. Those sighs say, “Whew, that was a close one.”

But as we turn to head over to the checkout we have to stop. I can’t move. One of the hyenas, er, girls, broke free from the pack. She leans on her cart and skids through the store, giggling to herself like a mindless idiot. Then I look down.

Now, let me emphasize something here. We live near the beach. I get the whole beach culture thing, I do. But this was just not right, okay?

She wasn’t wearing any shoes. Do I need to repeat that? The chick had no shoes on! Just socks. As if that weren’t bad enough, there was a giant hole one of the socks and her big toe protruded through it like a hernia. I mean, is it that hard to find a pair of shoes when you’re stumbling to the market on a weekday night?

I’m not going to lie. It was sad. And disgusting. But mostly just sad.

Any of these would've been fine.

We wait for the straggler to pass before dashing to the self-checkout counter. But again, our progress is thwarted.

The pack of teenagers had converged at the self-checkout, doubled over in laughter, half buns bobbing, hoodies spontaneously flinging over their heads. And the source of their amusement?

Blueberries.

Glinting in the harsh fluorescent lighting lay a minefield of blueberries, peppered across the linoleum. Why, they were even still frosty from the refrigerator. And the girl with the loudest laugh that crossed the entire market like a smoke alarm held the container, dangling in her hand, empty and useless.

They never knew the glory of a bowl.

We followed the rules: get in, get out, don’t make eye contact, avoid the people who talk to themselves. After tip-toeing through the blueberry massacre (“they were so young!” we cried as we wept for their purple souls) we made it to the checkout stand unscathed.

The car ride home was silent, somber even. There’s was nothing to say other than to reflect on what had just transpired. What evils we had encountered. What perils we narrowly escaped. The trek was complete, the journey at an end. But I doubt we’ll ever be the same.

And the nagging certainty that we will forget something from the grocery list again haunts my dreams.