Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bad Habits? P-lease.



By Sandra Novack
I don’t know about you, but I spent Christmas and the pre-holiday season drinking red wine and eating spoonful after spoonful of cookie dough. This has left me with the serious problem that is my ass. Pounds, Girlfriends.  I have put them on!  I am excessive. An all-or-nothing girl.  And this ass situation, it has also left me wondering why I even signed on for that gym membership that I haven’t once used the entire month of December.  Did I mention it was expensive? I am wasteful.  I am wasteful, fat, and boozy.  We’re not swimming in dough over here (well, cookie dough, maybe). 

This isn’t even half of it.  I am a pretty neurotic person.  Rest assured:  Once you go down that road of dwelling on your bad traits, you just get heavier.  Soon you’re feeling like you have more bad habits than anyone else you know.  You start to get nervous, even fidgety. You start deflecting, using the more removed ‘you’, when what you really mean is ‘I’.  

So since this blog post was starting to depress me, I decided to talk about how bad habits can sometimes also be good ones. Focus on the positive! 

1)    Fussing!  So I fuss.  So what.  In my early drafting stage, I am the queen of writing the crap out of a sentence.  I try and find just the right words, just the right rhythms. I can go at one line ten times over, then ten times more. This is not the best habit.  Whole paragraphs, entire scenes might be cut. I have lost many good words.  While part of me thinks, What a waste!, the process slows me down and often makes me more methodical. As I read over a draft, I fall into the rhythm and language and both become part of the story landscape. Plus, I am a writer prone to some serious bouts of discouragement.  When I read too many bad sentences, I fall into that even deeper problem of despair, thinking, I can’t write to save my life!  At least when my sentences feel smooth, I can stay invested.  Does this make my process slower?  Yes.  But it takes what it takes (to keep going).

2)    I don’t write in any linear way.  For years I considered this an annoying habit.  All that extra time to organize!  I’ve often wondered why I couldn’t have a more disciplined mind.  A logical one.  You know the kind, where one thought follows the next, orderly? That’s not me. From one paragraph to the next, I can write things that seem unrelated, things I know will end up in different chapters.  The good aspect of this, though, is that it allows me to work through juxtaposition, which usually leads me to see the ‘big picture’ in more complex, associative ways.  I can layer a lot. I can build structure.

3)    On the subject of red wine:  I never write (as in actually write for my publisher) under the influence.  Oh sure, I might e-mail or call friends under the influence at 6 p.m., but they’re usually under it, too, by then, so all is right with the world. I will admit that some of the best lines in my novel came after two (uh-hum) glasses of wine. Many writers know that liminal place, where we are in this world but flirting with another (liken it to peyote).  To be fair, I’ve also jotted down some lines that were terrible, too, and frankly some lines that were just illegible.  Still, occasionally there is a gem!

4)    Given how long this post is already, I should fess up to overwriting.  I will always be more of a ‘full’ writer.  Just like my ass situation, my sentences also want to expand.  I wish I could be leaner from the start, but it just never works out that way.  Call my writing a robust 8 and not a skinny 3, and let’s just embrace it and move on.

5)    I love animals. Find me on Facebook and know I am nuts over all things with fur.  How, you might ask, is this a bad writing habit?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that ‘animals are automatically sentimental’.  In early writing classes,  my teacher would say, “Sandy, geesh, another dog?”  So I love my dog.  Most people love their dogs.  Maybe someday I will just get this out of my system and write an entire book about a big white dog, who will happen to be just like my giant white dog , Chloe (who sadly we had to put to sleep last week, at age 13).  Sniff, sniff.  If you didn’t get a holiday card or even, in the case of my husband, a present (well, okay, he got ONE present), that is why.   I’ve been weeping.  Yes, and it was over a pet.  Is there no place for this in literary fiction? 

Anyway, no one says just because a dog or cat appears in a novel or story means the scene is sentimental.  It can be more interesting, like:

“Do you love me, Jane?”
“Yes.”
“No, you don’t.  You never loved anything but the toy poodle.”

Okay, that was just off the top of my head (and not the best).  Still, this year I am concentrating on making my bad habits just work better for me.  Why all this New Year’s guilt? Celebrate those bad habits!   Have red wine!  Eat cookie dough!  Embrace your size 8 ass!  Friends, we live in a tough world.  I say: Hey, whatever keeps you going.

I will leave you with a picture of Chloe, who was not a poodle but a Great Pyrenees.  To her I say:  Until we meet again, my dearest friend, know that my love travels with you.

Sandra Novack has a fat ass, loves all furry creatures, and drinks red wine.  She also writes novels.  You can follow her on Facebook.  When you friend her, please tell her you met her here! 

29 comments:

  1. Great post, Sandra! Now off to have a glass of red wine and do a little writing. Happy New Year! :-)

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  2. Great post, Sandra! Now off to have a glass of red wine and do a little writing. Happy New Year! :-)

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  3. Sandra, I'm so sorry about Chloe's passing. As a fellow dog-lover, you have my deepest sympathies. I really enjoyed your post, maybe because I saw a lot of my own less-than-stellar traits in it ;) A toast (with red wine, of course), to a great, prosperous, amazing 2012 for us all!

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  4. Wendy, thank you! I actually wrote my post yesterday afternoon, during the work day, but I was having a glass of red wine when I posted. ;)

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  5. Jill, thanks so much for your kind words. We had a very difficult year in 2011, in terms of deaths, so I am so happy to toast it out! 2012, bring it on. I wish you all best, too! Sandy

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  6. PS I should add: I have no idea what happened with the font here. I tried three times to copy, make everything Times New Roman, and repost, but it kept changing fonts, anyway. Number 6: I am technologically incompetent. (Like I said, the list keeps growing.)

    Happy New Year, All!

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  7. I found myself nodding along and grinning through your whole post! I had a scene in my first novel where my characters rescue a bunch of dogs from a puppy mill. Why not, right? LOL It had nothing at all to do with the plot, but my own puppy (which I realized too late came from such a mill) had recently died of kidney failure. My editor was like, "Er, yeah....I'm afraid the dogs have to go." :)

    I'm so sorry about Chloe...*hugs*


    PS: You do NOT have a fat ass! LOL

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  8. Jess, I'm sorry about your pup. :( Your editor's comment made me smile, though. I've heard that, too. I'm working on non-fiction now, but I have in mind (way down the line, after this work and a novel) to write a screenplay as well as a children's book I've been turning over in my head. At least I can put a dog in a children's book, yes? :) Problem solved!
    PS I was thin in that pic. Gained 20 (ACK) pounds living in Chicago. What can I say? I love to eat.

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  9. Hysterical! I'm with you on the cookie dough and furry friends. What more does a girl need?

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  10. Chloe looks like such a sweetheart. I'm so sorry to hear about her passing. You made me smile reading this (and convinced me to try writing under the influence of red wine-I'm always sober!) Never fear the holiday weight gain. I have it too, it goes to my stomach. But good food is meant to be enjoyed. And cookie dough too!

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  11. Thank you...she was a sweetie. I have to stay sober to write (otherwise I wouldn't write ever). Sometimes, however, a good line does seem to be channeled through the Merlot. :) Have fun trying this experiment at home!

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  12. Your house is swimming in cookie dough? When can I come over!?!?

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  13. Ha, ha! That made me laugh when you said it like that, Brenda! :) You can come over whenever you want. Just be prepared for all our critters (we have cats, too).

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  14. Sandra, so sorry about Chloe! I'm another animal nut and understand exactly how hard it is to lose an old friend. I bet your hub understands!

    Here's to a better 2012! xoxo

    (and ps, size 8 doesn't sound like too much of an ass problem:)

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  15. Sandra, My condolences on Chloe's passing. I know exactly how you feel, two goldens and two cats later. You post was manic fun, and pumped my afternoon! Thanks for sharing!

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  16. Fun, fun post! And the red wine! Yum.

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  17. PS Really sorry about Chloe. What a beautiful dog. Made me teary.

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  18. Lucy, thank you (and thank you for saying my ass isn't fat). xoxoxo for that! :) And yes: Phil was and is devastated. We plan to welcome another Pyr into our hearts sooner rather than later, though, as the breed leaves a giant hole in the house when they're not there.

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  19. Laura: I'm sorry, too, for all the losses. 2011 was a crap year (one drowned father, senior cat losses, then Chloe). It seems, too, that so many I know had more than their fair share of sadness this year. I am *so* in the mood for 2012, even if the world does end! Ha. (I don't think it will, personally.)

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  20. Karin, thanks! Happy New Year, Friend!

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  21. Loved your post, Sandra, though I was so sorry to hear about Chloe. I am a *mess* when we've had to put to sleep a pet...my thoughts are with you. Also, size 8 is NOT fat ;).

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  22. Thank you, Marilyn, for your words, on all fronts.

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  23. Or, in the case of my rear, 'backs'. :)

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  24. Oh, what a joy to know I am not alone in the land of dough-eating, over-writing, wide butt neurotics. Surely, Dr. Seuss missed a fabulous book there somewhere.

    Thanks for this post.

    May all the crap of 2011 fertilize your 2012.

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  25. You may think you have a fat ass, but those jeans do *not* make you look fat! So I beg to differ.

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  26. Yes, yes, but notice I didn't post an 'updated, holiday season 2011' pic. LOL.

    xoxo s

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  27. I love pets. Uncover myself upon Facebook and also know I'm nuts over everything issues using pelt. How, you may request, are these claims a bad producing behavior? I can?¡¥t tell you how many times I?¡¥ve heard that ??animals are routinely sentimental?¡¥. In early on producing classes, my trainer would certainly point out, ?¡ãSandy, geesh, yet another canine??¡À So I like my own puppy. Most people enjoy their own puppies. Maybe sometime I am going to just get this beyond my program as well as write a full publication of a massive whitened pet, that will are the same as my personal giant bright dog , Chloe (that unfortunately we'd to set to sleep the other day, at age Tough luck). Smell, sniff. If an individual didn?¡¥t get a trip credit card or even, in the matter of my husband, something (properly, alright, they obtained A single current), this is why. I?¡¥ve already been weeping. Indeed, also it ended up being over a family pet. Is there nowhere because of this within literary hype?
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