Bonnie's excuse of the week

Friday, October 31, 2008

It scares me to think of how many excuses I use. I'm hoping that one Friday morning I'll be able to draw a blank. It probably won't be until 2010 though. ;)

"It's not good enough."
This is an excuse I apply to a cornucopia of things. Writing a novel. Trying a difficult recipe. Re-decorating. Clearing out the clutter.

More often than not, I catch myself in the middle of a task and question my ability to complete it to some standard that is obviously not the one I'm achieving at the moment. The words don't flow smoothly enough. The bread doesn't rise enough. The couch is in the wrong spot for good chi and the clutter is sticking out from underneath the cushions.

But where do these high standards come from? And who created them? Surely just giving it my best should be good enough, right?

Does every swing at the bat have to result in a home run? I must admit, it scares me when sports analogies pop into my head; this isn't a natural state for me and I'm feeling kind of twitchy now.

This need for things to be perfect right away could also be a side-effect from my addiction to competition shows. America's Top Whatever, The Apprentice and The Amazing Race not only all start with "a," they've also ruined things for me. All those contestants, love 'em or hate 'em, really have ONE CHANCE to do things right or they're voted off, fired or lose the race. Okay, maybe I can't blame them entirely, but I seem to have this belief that most things should be easy to do -- and then I get really flustered when they're not.

Then again, why should things be easy? If everything was easy to do, we'd all be whatever we wanted to be just by hanging around the ice cream truck or sitting on the couch. My first attempts at writing a full-length novel would outsell anything by Nora Roberts and Stephen King combined.

Now that's a scary thought. ;) 

I guess what I need to learn is that we all gotta start somewhere -- and it can't be at the finish line. That would simply get boring after a while.

Well, that's what I'm telling myself. Le sigh.


posted by Bonnie Staring at 8:51 AM 3 comments

Getting ready for November

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where did October go? I remember waaay back at the beginning of the month asking the four-year-old boy next door what he was going to be for Halloween.

"A vampire... or a pirate! Arg!" he said with a big parrot-worthy grimace.

"Why not be a vampire-pirate?" I asked him.

"Oh no, you can't be both. It has to be just one. Or people won't know who I am."

And that got me thinking about genres. And pen names. And writing in general.

Sometimes I look upon writing as wearing a disguise. For some articles, I'm a car buff, for others, I know the ins and outs of getting liposuction done. It's all part of earning a living writing magazine articles -- most of us have to wear many different hats.

Deep down though, it's still me. The one worried about making deadlines or concerned that the last thing she wrote is absolute crap. ;)

The same might be said for fiction authors. No, not about the crap, but the different hats. I know many who write in more than one genre, using more than one name in order to dip their pen into another pond without getting their legion of fans in their initial genre upset.

Is little Lukas right? Do people want to see only vampires or pirates, and not vampire-pirates?

I don't think so. If that were the case, we wouldn't have those awesome genre-busting novels that reach out beyond a certain readership. That's what sells books and keeps publishers happy.

The only problem is that in order to get your foot in the door, most agents and editors expect to know where a novel fits in the market. That inspirational/time-travel/western with erotic elements might scare people. Oh, and don't forget the zombies.

The secret, I can only guess (based on hearing it a gazillion times), is to present them with a such a fabulous story, they don't care how many genres it bends and breaks through. 

As for Lukas, we'll see who shows up at my door tomorrow night.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:11 AM 0 comments

Missing in action

Monday, October 27, 2008

I've been on three trips this year and for the life of me I've lost track of all my photos. While I have vivid recollections of downloading the images off my camera, I can't find them.

And, yeah, it's kind of embarrassing. Especially when you've described some of said images to friends and family, and now they want to see them.

So, instead of freaking out, I'm just gonna chill -- and hope that the DH can find them. In the meantime, here's a picture of Zaphod, who is currently in ninja mode, hiding at the top of the stairs waiting for his next victim.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:10 PM 0 comments

Bonnie's excuse of the week

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thanks must go to s william for mentioning this often-used excuse in his comments on last week's excuse:

"Waiting for the perfect time."

I know the perfect cure for that one: sell your book or article. That way you'll have a firm deadline to aim for, one that will haunt your every waking hour as you struggle through the dangling participles, piles of laundry and extra Halloween treats.

But what if you're not waiting to pen the Great Novel or Essential Essay? What if, heaven of heavens, you're doing what I'm doing way too much of: waiting for the perfect time to call someone I haven't spoken to in ages.

Friends. Family. Bill collectors. Mafia henchmen. Yeah, there's a ton of people I should be having more conversations with. And not because I have to, but because I want to. Well, except for the repo guys and Mafiosos.

I should call or write or visit, but I wait for that elusive "perfect time." Life gets way too busy, and the next thing you know another month goes by, then another, and then their kids have received Masters degrees -- and the last time you saw any of them they were in diapers.

Maybe the perfect time is right now. Well, maybe not right now since it's one in the morning and people might get all cranky if I called them at this very moment. But there were the days when calling a girlfriend in the wee hours wasn't that crazy an idea -- unless they were still living at home or had an evil morning shift.

Back then all my friends were creatures of the night. Or at least they faked it real well.

Again, as Nienke mentioned, this could be those evil priorities at work again. Sheesh, with all this stuff working against us, how does anyone get stuff done?

What has you waiting for the "perfect time"?


posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:17 AM 0 comments

I heart Adam Levine

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My apologies to those who came in search of words (or whining) about the writing process. You'll have to come back later for that. ;)

Okay, I know I'm a happily married woman who is old enough to be Adam Levine's...aunt, but I can't help it. Every Maroon 5 video makes me feel like a 16-year-old again. Sometimes I even break out.

And you know Adam's the love 'em and leave 'em type. Just look at their videos: he's with a different wanton hussy in each one, sometimes even a few of them -- all in a writhing gaggle of hussiness. I mean really, can't they find a room?

Oh yeah, the camera is in the room with them. Never mind.

So, of course, since I've been mooning over the lead singer of Maroon 5, I simply had to search for an appropriate image to go on this blog post. (The pictures of my cat will have to wait for another time.)

After watching So You Think You Can Dance Canada and both Francis and Nico being all shirtless and ripped, I'd kind of had my fill of bare chests. (This is the point when Bonnie realizes that family members read this blog and decides to keep on walking down the slippery ab-slope anyway.)

Did I mention that there are about the same number of images of Adam Levine as there are of Zac Efron? No, I lie: there are waaaay more images of Zac out there. Don't ask me how I know.

Okay, so I found this photo of Adam, my karaoke night date:

As you can see, he might have a drinking problem. Or lives with all the band members and that's their bar area for all the parties. Anyhoo, what attracted me to this image (despite the obvious) is the wistful way Adam is looking to the side.

What do you think he's looking at?

Here are my guesses:

1. He's waiting for his cab to arrive and take him over to the karaoke bar so we can hook up. Musically of course. He gets the Duran Duran tunes, and I do Madonna. Great, now I'm blushing.
2. The pizza guy's at the door and Adam's waiting for his humble manservant to take care of it.

3. The trailer for HSM3 is on, and he can't drag his eyes away from Zac Efron.

All I know is, it "Makes Me Wonder." Cue Youtube:

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:08 PM 0 comments

Shake it up

Monday, October 20, 2008

In almost every self-help book I own, there's a sentence that reads like this:

"If you keep on doing things the same way, how can you expect different results?"

And, now that I've seen it about a gazillion times, I think there might be some truth to that. ;) Not that I consider my approach to things to be particularly standard (those how know me might be choking on beverages right about now), but my reaction to what happens may be falling into a pattern. Here's an example:

Upon discovery of an opportunity/new idea/new project: "Ohmigawd! This is freaking awesome! I have to go for it and just do it -- it's my destiny. I can just feel it."

About a third of the way through: "Oh, Mah. Gawd. There's a lot more to this than I realized, but it's still uber-fun. This is gonna be great. I can just feel it."

Past the midway point, no light at the horizon: "Ohmigawd, this thing is never gonna end. What the heck was I thinking? This is about as fun as yams. And everything I've created is absolute crap. I can just feel it."

At the completion of whatever the heck it was: "Ohmigawd! This is freaking done! I can't believe I actually finished it. And it wasn't all that horrible. Next time, it's gonna be different. I can just feel it."

And I repeat this four-step process over and over again, hence my need to shake things up. Oh dear, did I just use the word hence in a blog post? Can you tell I've been proofing business collateral? LOL

So I'm going to see if I can actually enjoy the entire process while I do stuff. Of course, that might be asking for the impossible since I KNOW that I don't enjoy the part when I'm ready to give up on the treadmill and then see that I'm only three minutes into my 30-minute workout. Le sigh.

Maybe I'll just shake things up by ordering a tropical smoothie. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 7:34 PM 0 comments

Bonnie's excuse of the week

Friday, October 17, 2008

To help organize my thoughts and put all those excuses I've been coming up with to good use, I'll be highlighting one excuse each Friday. This way I can put down in words how I've been sabotaging myself and see how lame these excuses really are.

Hey, it's worth a shot, especially with Nanowrimo around the corner. ;)

"I don't have enough time."
This is a favorite excuse of mine, and one I've used so many times that I should really come up with a catch phrase for it like "my sched's twisted" or "get me to the time store."

There are a lot of us out there without enough time. I know this because of all the time-management books, workshops and consultants that are available to us. Of course, to read the books, take the classes or meet with consultants takes even more time away from the time you don't have, so what's a biz-ay person to do?

Tip #1: Create a time diary.

When you're watching your weight, experts suggest you keep a food diary so that you're aware of the dozen jelly donuts you gorge on every other day. Or, if you're watching your budget, a good plan of action is to track how you're spending your dough. So it makes sense that tracking how you spend your time will illustrate just where the heck your hours are going.

Of course, I haven't done this because I'm afraid I'll learn how much America's Next Top Model and I Wanna Work for Diddy are affecting my schedule. Word.

Tip #2: Be realistic with how long it takes to do things.

This is a big one for me, as I always estimate that it will take me about half the time to mow the lawn, revise an article or make a new recipe from scratch. Yet I'm a master at starting things at 9:00 at night, thinking I'll get it done by the time the late-night news is on.

Sigh. I'd go into more detail, but I gotta get me to the time store. LOL

Is this one of your main excuses? How do you work around it?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:20 AM 7 comments

Trust your guts

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

If ever there was a phrase I needed to tattoo across my forehead backwards so I could see it every time I looked in the mirror, that would be it.

Trust your guts.

There's a sitiation (the spelling is purposeful, just say it with a Brooklyn accent for it to work) I'm in that I really shouldn't be. I'd go into detail, but the most exciting part of the deal is... huh, there's nothing exciting happening here at all. Maybe that's part of the problem. LOL

You see, when this "opportunity" presented itself, there was something about it that made me hesitate. This happens to me a lot and, most of the time, I see this as my version of spidey sense, telling me to stay fah fah away, there's a stench in Denmark or some other cliche that fits the bill.

In this case, however, I misread my hesitation and proceeded down the shiny path. Could it have been the four episodes of Melrose Place I'd watched in a row the night before that made me go against my guts? Perhaps. Or was it my fear of not trying new things and meeting new people, only to slowly turn into a hermit who eats spray cheese right out of the can?

Okay, maybe there was a bit of that going on, too. Unfortunately, the warning bells have come and gone, and I'm left with the charred remains of what started as a kind-of-all-right thing that had potential.

And now I've got to get it out of the carpet somehow before I have guests over.

Shoot. Here I am, going on and on about something that really doesn't mean a hill of beans when I could be chillaxing and voting for one of the couples on So You Think You Can Dance Canada. ;)

How about you? Are you good at trusting your guts? Have they ever steered you wrong?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:04 PM 3 comments

Giving thanks

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating today, and a happy pre-Thanksgiving to those who have to wait until November for the all-you-can-eat and then all-you-can-shop festivities.

Despite the gloom and doom of the economy the Canadian and American elections and watching my retirement savings shrink (this too shall pass, just not sure when), we have a heck of a lot to be thankful for. Well, I can't really speak for you, can I?

What I can do though, is share my list of the top ten things I'm thankful for and hope that there's something here that makes you smile and maybe even think of some things that you appreciate. These are in no particular order since there are no wrong answers when you're giving thanks.

I'm thankful for...

1. My husband. He's my best friend, soul mate, devil's advocate and logic barometer. He's the yin to my yang, the "ya" to my "hoo" and one of the few people I know who has mastered the term "Indeed" so that it serves many purposes. There is much to learn from this man, so he's a keeper.

2. Zaphod the kitten of mass destruction. He's spoiled, uncontrollable and, sometimes, cranky as all get out just like his mama, but he's so darn adorable that we let him get away with it. Several times a day.

3. The roof over our heads. Most people purchase starter homes with plans to eventually move into something larger. We call our place our "finish" home, since we love it and plan on staying here until they need to drag us to the retirement home.

4. My folks. For telling me that I could do whatever I wanted to set my mind to, as long as it wasn't illegal or hurt someone else. They also taught me about working hard and how procrastination doesn't always pay off. Okay, maybe I'm still learning that one. I'll get to it eventually.

5. My friends. Some I've known for months, others I've known longer than I care to admit (since in my mind I'm still 16), and each one gives me a different perspective on life, love and coupon usage. As an only child, I look upon these fabulous folks as my extended family -- black sheep included!

6. My career. I'm blessed to be able to do work that I love to do. Okay, maybe I don't love it all the time, but I'm lucky to be able to have fun while earning a living. I'm especially thankful for the times I've been fired, laid off or in jobs I really couldn't stand, as each situation helped me grow stronger and discover what works best for me. And that's something you can't learn in school, no matter how hard you try.

7. Drs. Banting and Best. These guys invented insulin, the life-saving drug that allows people suffering from Type I diabetes to live a somewhat normal life. Actually, it allows us to live, period. While I never got to know these guys on a personal level, I'm sure they were cool, groovy people.

8. Swings. There is nothing more stress-relieving than a good swing on a swing set. It's hard to focus on negative stuff with the wind whipping past your ears and having your toes reach for the sky. Maybe one day I'll travel the world, ensuring that each community has a swing set.

9. Contests. It may seem like a strange thing to be thankful for, but I love entering contests. I'm talking about supermarket sweepstakes and other draws sponsored by companies to get me to try a product. It's a fun hobby that has enabled me to win my share of prizes: from TVs to cash to coupons for more free products. And I can enter while I'm watching my new TV. ;)

And finally...

10. Free speech. To live in a society where we are able to freely speak our minds, whether in an article, novel or on a blog, is a beautiful thing. I shudder to think of what my life would be like if I were living in a place where I wasn't allowed to voice my opinion or earn a living writing magazine columns. I'd probably be an angry, hairy person. Well, hairier than I already am, though I'm not sure why. It just sounded good at the time.

So there you go. My top ten things I'm thankful for. Feel free to create your own list and let us know where to find it. Happy Thanksgiving!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:39 PM 4 comments

Post 550

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wow, that seems like a big number. It's kind of hard to believe that I've come up with 550 things to blog about. Or maybe I should say "complain" about? LOL

Seriously though, when I think of where I was at when I first started this blog (about to end a dissatisfying ongoing contract, starting my second full manuscript and a nervous wreck) and compare it where I am now (two novels under my belt, a thriving freelance career and surviving being on a Canadian television series), I'm amazed at how much things haven't changed.

I still work too hard, worry too much and, when I'm stressed, eat the wrong things. On the other hand, I'm still the luckiest girl alive with a DH who does laundry, dishes and the dusting -- and who doesn't follow organized sports. He does, however, have a fondness for British cars, historic aircraft and progressive rock that can get a tad excessive.

But he turns the other cheek when I watch America's Next Top Model and Project Runway, so I'm verra, verra happy.

And I know that I can get a bit obsessive when it comes to to-do lists and goals and taking over the world. In fact, the first thing I wanted to do for this post was a check-in on my goals for 2008, but I resisted. For sanity's sake, I'm going to leave that until November 1 -- and then dive into Nanowrimo.

I know, I'm nuts. I just feel that it's the only way I'm going to get the next book out of my head and onto paper. For months I've been thinking about it and jotting little notes down here and there, but it hasn't come together yet. For the first time scenes aren't flowing, and that kind of scares me.

Of course, this could be the idea's way of telling me that it should be a short story and not a full-length novel, but I'm not a good listener. Just ask the DH. ;)

So for now, I'm gonna continue with my own personal version of Clean Sweep and prepare myself for a great Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:49 PM 2 comments

Working my way through the stuff

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Okay, I think I'm back. Sheesh! What a wild ride it's been -- worked like a presidential candidate over the past few weeks, hopped on a plane to NYC with my mom, got totally sick and am still on the road to recovery now that I'm back on Canadian soil. Le sigh.

Of course, this is the part where I tell you that while I haven't been blogging I've been able to write ten novels, land an agent, star in a few feature films, get a few book contracts and sign up for an appearance on Oprah.

Hear those crickets chirping?

Ugh. There's that old saying that nature abhors a vacuum, and it appears that any time I saved by not blogging or checking out other blogs was replaced by...I'm really not sure. Things just got all crazy-busy and I saw bright lights, like there was an alien invasion or something. ;)

What I was able to get done was find the top of my desk. This is no small accomplishment, either, as there were piles on top of piles and bits of "really important" paper covering every flat surface in my office. I even found stuff piled on top of the karaoke machine: a true signal that there wasn't a lot of fun happening in BonnieLand of late.

And that's when I discovered something. I hang on to a lot of stuff. Okay, maybe it's not so much as discovery as it is getting hit over the head with it for the gazillionth time. But it made me stop and think about how all this stuff was slowing me down. Between trying to find a single piece of paper to trying to decide which project to tackle next, these piles would stop me in my tracks.

No wonder I ended up watching "I Want to Work for Diddy" instead of outlining my next novel. ;)

Could I subconsciously be sabotaging my efforts by piling on the paper? Hmm.

That's a question I think I know the answer to already, but it still makes me wonder how much more I could accomplish -- whether in the pursuit of happiness, an income or a book contract -- if I stopped letting things pile up all over the place. You know, like coupons for products I probably won't buy, to-do list items I have no intention of doing, and the emotional baggage I lug around and continue to accessorize from time to time.

How much simpler would it be if I approached things from the other side of the carton?

I'll have to let you know once I find it. LOL

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:42 AM 8 comments