Thursday, July 30, 2009

As I Sit Here...

Legs crossed,
feet tucked in,
a toy poodle in my lap, whisper-breathing.
The rhythmic hum of the dishwasher lulls me.
An odd thump here,
a creak there
from feet moving across the upstairs floor.
Water droplets trickle into a drain.
Someone turns on the water
in a second-floor bathroom
and it rushes through the pipes,
reverberates through the walls.
The air-conditioner wakes with a thud,
exhaling cool breath into vents.
A quiet house, alive with noises.

(c) Rebecca J. Gomez

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ideas: Where do they come from?

Every author is asked this question more than once: Where do your get your ideas?

On one author's website (can't remember who it was), he answers this question simply: From his head.

A valid answer, and true. But I don't think that's the kind of answer a person is looking for when asking where our ideas come from. Maybe the question should be rephrased, "What makes an idea take root in your head?"

Sometimes, especially when I am writing with Corey, an idea takes root after much brainstorming. I'll dig around the storage rooms in my brain in search of something worthy of planting. The first story Corey and I ever wrote together, Porcupine's Painting, came about this way, as do many of our other stories. But when I try to do this on my own, the ideas don't take root as easily.

It's more fun--and usually more productive--for me when an idea seems to hit me out of nowhere. It might be sparked by something one of my kids say, like when Daughter #2 commented that the dragon I had drawn for her was lonely (my first MG novel). Or something that makes me laugh, like when my husband said something funny while making a ham sandwich (pirate pigs picture book). Or when an image appears in my mind, like when that persistent tiger visited me one night as I teetered on the edge of sleep (current WIP, novel-in-verse). Where did the tiger come from? I don't know, but he must have been lurking in my brain somewhere.

Then there is the "writing prompt." A regular JOP (junk on paper--or 'puter) exercise will often sprout into a real idea. At the very least, it's a good way to practice for when I do get a real idea.

Most common for me is getting a beginning of an idea. For example, I once had an idea for a story about a speedy turtle. I wrote two paragraphs of that story before getting completely stuck, and no amount of vacuuming was helping. So the story sat for months and months until, finally, the rest of the story just came to me.

Rejections can spawn ideas too! I once submitted a hockey poem to Highlights (I wrote the poem after watching a hockey game). They considered it, but ultimately rejected it. I thought, "If they liked one active sports poem by me, they'll probably like another one. " So I wrote a poem about baseball, sent it to them, and--SOLD!

It doesn't always work out quite so nicely. Some ideas spring up at first and then quickly wither away. Some stay dormant so long that I think they're dead--but it turns out they were just waiting for spring. Others find a nice, fertile spot in my brain and grow and grow until they finally become full-grown poems and stories. What makes these stories take root? I think it is mainly because of the love and determination of the writer.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tuesday Tip #23: Try something new--List poetry

I love to do exercises that get me writing in a way that I'm less familiar with. For you non-poets out there, here's something that will help you get out of your comfort zone and stretch your little-used poetry muscles (we all have them, but we don't all use them).

Write a list poem!

A list poem is simply a list of related things in the form of a (usually) rhyming poem. Check out my summer poem and/or my 200th blog post to see some examples, then try one yourself.

Have fun with your list-writing!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tuesday Tip #22: Stuck??

If, during your writing endeavors, you get STUCK or you aren't quite sure how to translate the scene in your head into words on a page, try this:

Get up and vacuum.

There have been many times in my writing past that this mundane activity has helped unclog my brain juices and gotten me back on track.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, USA!

Happy 4th of July!

It is 4:30 pm on Independence Day, so shouldn't I be celebrating? I am! I'm chillin' out at home, with nothing to do. The partying will come later when we go to a church picnic and I get to eat food that someone else cooked, hang out with lots of cool people, and watch the fireworks with friends and family.

I'm relaxing now, but I haven't been just sitting on my butt all day. No. I decided I had to prove to my hubby how tough I was by doing some real time on the treadmill. I'm no stranger to the treadmill. When I feel like I need to do some moving, I'll get up on that ugly thing and walk for fifteen minutes or so, at a nice brisk pace.

But my hubby has decided (again) to get serious about getting back into shape. So I figured I would follow his lead. Maybe we can keep each other accountable.

My hubby tells me when I step on the treadmill, "Why don't you do one of the programs?"

I look down at the two options. Both are 30 minute programs, with running involved. Ugh.

"I just like to walk fast," I tell him.

"But you'll burn a lot more doing this. Besides, if you get tired, you can stop."

I don't have a lot of excess to burn, but I know that it would be good for me to work out enough to break a sweat. So I start the program.

Warm up. Walk fast. Walk faster. Run. Walk faster. Walk fast. Walk faster. Run. And repeat.

I didn't think I would make it past fifteen minutes. But I did (insert big grin here). I did the whole thirty minutes. And I was SWEATING. I had forgotten I was able to sweat that much.

When I was done, I asked hubby if he wanted a hug. He declined.