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I'm in a creative funk. Still writing for work, yes (a salary is SUCH a motivator!), but at the end of the day, I struggle to muster up the mojo to come up with any other writing. As luck would have it, I have agreed to contribute to a project, and I don't know whether it's fear or intimidation (well, probably a bit of both), but I've not been able to write a solitary word of my contribution yet!!

So I've decided to give The Jack(squat) Project another go.

In an odd coincidence, the next prompt in Jack's book reads: Acknowledge that writing is hard. Write it down.

Hahaha. Okay, Jack, you clown. Here it is: WRITING IS BLOODY DIFFICULT AND I HATE IT.

All right, I don't really HATE it. For some reason I feel compelled to keep doing it. But I really really wish that I was better at it. I wish I could have had a more literary writing style. But whenever I attempt to write anything that the literati would approve of, it invariably ends up sounding hopelessly trite and contrived.

So, yes Jack. Writing is really, REALLY difficult for me.

The rest of the prompt says: Then write about how you are going to make writing happen.

Well, I have no choice but to write every day. (See above about getting paid being a great motivator.) So I do it to keep the coffee cup filled and the modest roof over my head. But yes, I love it too. It's my passion. The thing I do best (even though I often feel that my 'best' is far from adequate. Mediocre, on good days.) So unless my respective bosses come to their senses and promptly fire me, I HAVE to write every day. But even during those days in the past when I didn't get paid to do it, I still felt compelled to resort to it again and again.

But anyway, if we take my work related writing out of it: How am I going to make the non-work related writing happen? Well, I'm making it happen right now, aren't I? I am SO not in the mood, but I've decided to turn to you for inspiration, Jack. Besides, I know from (rare) experience that, on those days when I LEAST want to write, but still force myself to do it, I sometimes come up with my better ideas. Almost as if I'm being rewarded merely for making the effort.

Sometimes, when the blank screen in front of me is just too intimidating, I dash off a quick e-mail to a friend. It's almost as if the act of typing helps to kickstart my 'writing rhythm'. I've never been one to freestyle it. I can't just sit down and type a stream of consciousness. I have always had this horribly limiting and annoying habit of editing myself as I go along. It's a mental barrier, and no matter how often I have tried, I simply can't overcome it. Okay, admittedly, I don't edit myself sentence by sentence when I'm typing an e-mail to a friend, because well, I suppose I always have something to say to my friends? And I strike a more conversational tone, therefore it flows more easily. Also, I'm not scared of what they will think of the e-mail, because (hopefully!) they won't be subjecting me to literary critiques. (And if they do, then I need new friends!) So I suppose, when I'm really stuck, I should surprise someone in my address book with an unsolicited e-mail. Yes, I sometimes still write actual letters too (those quaint, old-fashioned kinds that you actually send by POST, can you imagine?), but since I type those anyway (I write too painfully slowly by hand - thank you, Dyspraxia), I just resort to e-mail.

Okay, next part of the prompt. (Yes, still not done. This Mr. Jack Heffron is a regular slave driver, so he is!) How will you find the balance in yourself to combine willpower with relaxation, stubborness with joy? Write about how you've struck this balance in the past, with writing, sport (HAHAHAHAHA! Jackie... you SO don't know me at all), a musical instrument - anything you've done.

Willpower? MOI? But oh, the relaxation I have no trouble at all with! Okay, okay, seriously: I don't really know. As I've said, for some reason I have always felt compelled to subject myself to this torturous activity almost daily. It certainly helps that writing is one of my great passions. (Yes, apparently I'm a masochist.) It doesn't help that I am my own worst enemy and critic. (But if most of my other how-to books on writing are to be believed, that dastardly inner critic and bouts of fear, inadequacy and perpetual writer's block seem to be common afflictions among scribblers. Unless of course they are lying through their teeth.)

As for balance? I don't have a balanced life. I spend most of my days (happily) working.

I hope that answers your prompt, Jack, because that's all I have for you tonight.

ALL THIS, AND I STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M GOING TO WRITE FOR THE PROJECT! Shouldn't you be fired for that, Jack?!? After all, this book of yours is called The Writer's IDEA Book...  
I'm still utterly astonished when people stumble upon this here obscure and highly neglected little blog and... gasps!... actually read it. As if that isn't incredibly enough, sometimes (okay, rarely... okay, never! This is the first time ever) people even ask permission to use something I've written and subject their own readers/members to the torture of reading it too!

I received the following e-mail earlier this evening, and I have not been able to stop laughing since:

Good evening Redsaid!

I am Chief Petty Officer Storm Windfall of Lotus Fleet, a Roleplaying Star Trek site, where we while away the time for the release of Star Trek Online, the game.

I am surfing the net for interesting titbits to post on our forums, when I happened on your site.

I never laughed that hard! You wrote i quite well and I could place myself in your shoes, not having that much Star Trek knowledge!

May I, please, please, PLEASE post it on our forums?  I would like to share it with the members, it was so funny!

Thank you for your time

Storm Windfall
CPO Lotus FLeet

PS: Pay us a visit, anytime!

Of course I said yes! I mean, wow, I'm so flattered! So, all hail to all the esteemed members of The Lotus Fleet and welcome to this incredibly obscure little blog. It is, in fact, SO obscure, that it is officially part of the world wide cobweb - that dark, damp, forgotten and largely ignored corner of the Internet where all forgotten websites come to die.

Oh, in case you're wondering? The post Chief Petty Officer Storm Windfall of the Lotus Fleet (I love saying that!) is so interested in, is this one...
It's aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!

The "it" in question being me.

Yes, the snake didn't get me after all! I'm actually back in my own little hovel, which, although far tinier than my sister and brother-in-law's gorgeous, sprawling farmhouse, is at least, mercifully, devoid of reptiles and rodents.

*Knocks on wooden forehead.*

Work has been very busy, but I'm not complaining at all (well, a little bit... but that's just because I'm TIRED), because I'm just too grateful to still HAVE work as a writer. (ME!?!? Working as a WRITER!! Sorry. After all this time I still have moments of utter disbelief that there are people willing to pay the likes of me to do this. I'm extremely grateful, every single day.)

And speaking of writing... I have, quite accidentally, stumbled upon a new mini-hobby of sorts.

Remember my initial aversion to join Twitter? I didn't actually ever see the point of it, to be honest. To me, it seemed too much like glorified texting - which I hate, because I'm way too verbose to keep myself within such stingy word constraints. Anyway, as you may or may not recall, she finally convinced me to do it.

After a few hesitant and yet mind-numbingly boring and uninspired tweets, my twitter page became yet another web spot for me to neglect and ignore. But then I read about this Canadian author called Arjun Basu.

Allow me to nick the rest of this story from my other (equally neglected) blog:

Sometimes true creative genius sprouts forth and flourishes in the most unlikely places.

When Canadian writer and editor Arjun Basu signed up for his own Twitter account at the micro-blogging Web site, his initial tweets were, he admits, just as banal and boring as that of the next guy.

Sure, Twitter was already graced by a few poetic souls dreaming up haikus (or 'twaikus', as it was quickly dubbed) within the 140 character posting constraints imposed by the site, but most users were merely tweeting about the inane minutiae about their lives. There were a lot of uninspired "Standing in line" and "Starving" postings in the site's early days.

One day, as Arjun was staring at his blank Twitter box, wondering what to type, an image of a child trying to reach a cookie on a table entered his mind, and he decided to post it to Twitter as a short (VERY short) story.

After that, he wrote another. And another. And soon, the published author and former magazine editor had a following of more than 7 000 eagerly devouring his every Twister - for that's what he calls his 140-character short story creations.

A literary agent soon came calling. There has even been talk that some of his byte-sized pieces of micro-fiction could eventually be used as sources for really short films!

These days, as Twitter continues to expand as a global source of news and entertainment, Arjun has also become a bit of a celebrity. He and his creations receive media attention almost daily. It was through one such online news story, in fact, that I came to learn about him and his Twisters. I immediately found his Twitter page, signed up to follow him and was soon enraptured by his brilliant stories.

Here, just to give you a tiny taste, are some of my favourites by him:
"When he stroked her shoulder softly she felt it all the way in her toes. And she knew she would end up marrying him. Because she had no legs"

And this:
"He fell in love with the girl at the post office. But because her job was so tragic he never asked her out. His stamp collection is enormous"

This past weekend, I read another newspaper story featuring Arjun and his Twisters. Suddenly inspired, I wrote the following tweet on my own Twitter page: "
Inspired by the brilliant @arjunbasu, I've decided to try my own clumsy hand at writing #twisters and #twitterature. Stay tuned for 1st try."

A few minutes later, I posted my first ever Twitter short story: "
She looked too wired, so when she nervously asked for coffee, he gave her decaf. After the explosion, he saw her face on TV: suicide bomber."

A few hours later, much to my absolute astonishment and delight, I received a private message on Twitter from Arjun Basu himself!
He was very gracious and kind and told me to "keep going"!!!

Needless to say, I was absolutely floored. I never in a MILLION years thought that he would ever even notice my tweets, let alone acknowledge it!

And so, with Arjun's permission and blessing, I have been keeping at it. I've just posted my fourth attempt and I have to tell you, it's amazingly difficult to try and create a coherent story in just 140 characters. (Remember also that every punctuation mark and space also count as different characters! Also, I've decided to at times resort to American spelling, since it's a bit more economic than ours!) Writing such short shorts is brilliant exercise for firing up and jolting the old creative writing brain, though, but also terribly intimidating.

I can only hope to one day be even HALF as good as the extraordinarily talented Mr. Arjun Basu!

is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Terra: YES! Wait... you didn't think that I would be this possessed to post for NO REASON, did ya???... [go]
  • Terra.Shield : OH! ... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: Be a bit like serving drinks at AA?... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: I personally think it is a mindset that has been cultivated over the years, and one, if not stemmed,... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Ms. Crazy Cat Lady Pants!!! Squeeeee! Sooo good to see you! (I thought NO ONE was bothering to read ... [go]
  • Ms. Pants : Kitties don't get enough credit sometimes. (All times, if you ask me, but I'm a Crazy Cat Lady.)... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Hey Tamara! I know, right?? That is a tough act to follow indeed. I adored that dentist. He used to ... [go]
  • Tamara Tipton : Well, I am not sure how any dentist could live up to that standard! LOL! I hope your appointment was... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: I'm really really glad that I'm not the only one, Po! Sometimes I drive myself mad with all the what... [go]
  • Po : Those questions run through my heads for various times in my life too, that is for sure!... [go]
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