Tag Archives: writing

Wayward Coffeehouse: My Happy Place

I’m writing this on a Wednesday in the Wayward Coffeehouse. Usually by Wednesday I’ll have some sort of idea swirling around in my noggin to write about. When that doesn’t happen I start to get a little worried. I like to have a rough draft finished by Thursday morning so I have time to do a little editing and proofing. When I’ve got no ideas by Thursday I start to panic a little and think too hard thus crushing any great ideas that might have been bubbling under the surface. So today is Wednesday and Jack is at preschool and I wondered what I was going to write about.

I wondered with a bit of shame if I was going to have to write another “excuse post”. If you’re a regular reader of my blogs I’m sure you’ve seen them. I hate those posts. I hate making excuses. I didn’t want to write an excuse post. But I’m not feeling terribly creative. My energies are being diverted (that’ll happen as the holidays get closer I guess). I’m using all my energy to stay focused on the now instead of worrying about the future and the what if’s in life.

I felt the need to get centered. I needed to regroup and find my happy place. So I went to Wayward Coffeehouse. I know what you’re thinking, ‘she went to a coffeehouse to find peace? WTF is wrong with this girl’. When most people think of getting centered or finding their “happy place” they think of some mystical land that exists in their head. They think of meditation and focusing. Well…at the moment I don’t really have a happy place in my head. “Staci Land” (as it was dubbed long ago by my mom) has been in quite the state lately so meditating and trudging through the sludge of my inner self is not exactly relaxing. I don’t know how to turn off my brain. It just goes, it does what it wants…it’s a rebel.

However, I never feel unhappy when I go to the Wayward. I feel like I can focus there. Maybe it has something to do with not being distracted by stupid things like cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what’s going on, the Wayward never fails to cheer me up. I’ll try to tell you why.

Let’s start with a little history. The Wayward Coffeehouse first opened in the neighborhood of Greenwood in 2005. It opened right around the corner from Jordan and my first apartment. We had eagerly awaited it’s opening and I’m pretty sure we were among its first customers.

From day one I loved, LOVED this place. It’s  a nerdy haven of happy stuff. Star Trek, Star Wars and Firefly are a large part of the decor. They’ve got lovely art on the walls, they host game nights. They’ve had nerdy bingo. It’s just a great place to be. Even during the week in the morning/afternoon there’s a wonderful feeling of welcoming. I never feel awkward or judged walking into this place.

This is the place I wrote two of my novels. Every morning before heading to Taproot Theatre’s box office I would order a coffee and work on my novels for two hours. I wrote the first draft of The Protector and Jude and the Zombies there, sipping my Irish Creme Latte. Wayward is the first place that stocked my Wet Rat articles, before I turned them into a blog. Wayward was also the only place that seemed excited about it and would let me know how often they were being picked up and read.

It felt like a second home, which makes sense, we lived right behind it. Eventually we moved to a small house in Northgate and I couldn’t get to the Wayward as often as I would have liked. Then it suffered smoke  and water damage from a fire next door and had to move to the Roosevelt neighborhood. So I get there even less than before. BUT I’m still remembered by the owner. I even ran into her in the ladies room at ECCC one year and we chatted for like five minutes. It was after that encounter that I knew Wayward would always be like a second home to me.

So when I’m feeling overwhelmed, stifled creatively or just a little sad I know I can get a pick me up if I come here. Not just from the coffee but from the people. Even if the person behind the counter is someone I’ve never met they’re always nice, talkative and engaging.

On top of it being my mecca for well being it’s also kid friendly. Kid friendly in that the baristas are kind to the kids, there’s a little table and some toys. Honestly it’s surprising to me how many coffee shops in Seattle turn their noses up at kids. I know Seattle isn’t the most kid friendly city. (I’m inclined to believe it’s more dog friendly honestly.) So due to the air of general snootiness when it comes to kids it’s nice to have a place where I can bring a book and my kid and relax for awhile without having the staff glaring at me while I finish my coffee.

It’s great having a place to go just to get out of your house when you need it, especially as a single mom. I think it’s important for everyone to have a place like this. Is there a place you feel this way? Where is your second home?

My Inspirations: Stephen King

Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. I have said that to a handful of people and gotten incredulous scoffs of snobbery (you know who you are). But when it comes to how he inspired me Stephen King is a bit different from the rest. When other authors made me believe I could write, Stephen King was the one that convinced me to keep writing. I was on the verge of letting go of this silly writing dream when I started to read Stephen King.

I was not unfamiliar with King. I’d heard of him, of course. I’d seen the Shining and Pet Sematary, I knew he’d written other creepy stuff. But I didn’t grow up loving Stephen King. I never really read it until after college. I think the first book of his I read was The Tommyknockers. It freaked out me for sure, but there seemed to be more to it than that.

As I read more of King’s writing I noticed that his stories were almost always about more than simply scaring the shit out of you. His characters were so vivid. You could relate to them, feel their pain and confusion. It made the stories so real. So how did these stories keep me from giving up?

They didn’t. I read King’s book On Writing and realized it’s always going to be a struggle. But the struggle is worth it. After reading On Writing I started to read all I could about King. What his life had been like, what he struggled with, how he dealt with the shit aspects of life. Once I got to know the man a little more I realized that nothing worth doing is easy. Stephen King made me realize that writing can be really fucking hard, but not writing at all is so much worse than that.

Let it Go George!

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I finally got around to watching The People Vs. George Lucas this week. It’s been lurking on my instant queue for months now. I was avoiding it because I thought maybe it would be biased and mean. I thought it might demonize George Lucas and turn him into some sort of villain. It didn’t do that and I’m glad. I did have a lot of mixed feelings as I watched the film though. A LOT! I found myself flip flopping on a lot of issues that many Star Wars fans feel very strongly about. I’m going to go ahead and talk about some of the issues I have with Mr. Lucas. But first let me say something.

I am not a George Lucas scholar. I haven’t read any of his books. I haven’t read any books about him. I’ve seen THX (which I thought was fuckin’ weird), American Graffiti (which I thought was kinda boring), the Star Wars movies and the Indiana Jones movies, but I don’t assume that seeing those films makes me any kind of expert on a man I know absolutely nothing about. So please don’t assume that I’m saying that at all. What follows are merely my thoughts on things as a fan and an artist/writer/creator. So don’t be a dick if you happen to disagree with anything I write.

Issue #1: Han shot first, PERIOD!

This is a big one among Star Wars fans. In the original release of A New Hope it’s very obvious that Han shoots Greedo without any warning. When Han shoots we see that he is, in fact, a dangerous smuggler with very low moral standards. He has no problem shooting Greedo under the table and never mentions it again. You could argue that later on in the story, after he falls in love with Leia he becomes a different man. Sure I’ll give you that. BUT, at the beginning of his story in A New Hope he is a “scruffy nerf herder” with very little motivation aside from his own safety and money.

When George Lucas re-released A New Hope Greedo shoots first. Not only does he shoot first, but he shoots first really, really badly. How does a trained, experienced bounty hunter like Greedo end up missing a shot from two feet away? Seriously. Two. Feet. Away. It was discussed at length in The People Vs. George Lucas. The biggest problem with this change is how it morphs the character of Han from ruthless to…something else. We know he’s supposed to be dangerous and we saw him get his gun out, but now he’s shooting in self defense? It’s confusing. It doesn’t jive with the fact that he hasn’t been caught yet even though he’s wanted by a powerful big wig. It makes him seem less badass, which is a problem.

I think I wouldn’t have such a problem with this change if he would just make the damn original releases available on DVD. I have the originals on VHS but who know how long those will last? Which brings me to my next issue.

Issue #2: Stop Hoarding All Your Story!

This is one thing I didn’t know about before watching The People Vs. George Lucas. I thought the originals were available to own on DVD. But they are not! It’s all the re-releases. What’s more, George Lucas has no plans to release the original versions ever. EVER! He says that it’s because when the movies were originally released he had to cut out a lot and not do several scenes for financial or technological reasons. Now he has the money and technology to make his movies exactly how he wanted them to be. Great! Do your thing George, but let us keep what we love. (And really if Greedo was supposed to shoot first from the very beginning he could have done that. One extra blaster shot in a movie full of them? Come one now. You will never convince me that you didn’t have the money or technology to put that in to begin with. That is the frivolous change of an old man thinking his character is too harsh or whatever.) The fact that he won’t release the originals is really annoying to me.

Look, as a fellow creative type I get it. I’m sure there are a great many authors, filmmakers, artists that have put out creations that they look back on and cringe. I’m sure so many wish they’d been able to make something absolutely perfect before sending it out into the world. But he put it out there and even though it wasn’t perfect for him, it was for someone else. That’s why Star Wars has such a gigantic following! It changed people’s lives, it inspired many people to become what they are! Heck, it made me want to write stories and it made me believe that I could! So why, oh why would you snatch it back, make a bunch of changes but not let us keep what touched many us so deeply? It’s mean and selfish. I realize the story belongs to George Lucas and he has the power to do what he wants to it, but…if you know it upsets so many people why do it? But then I flip flop to my creator side and think ‘well you can’t please all the people all the time.’ Then I flip flop back to fan mode and think ‘true, but he put it out there! And it’s not just one little fan, it’s millions of people! MILLIONS!’ And so I sit here torn, wondering what to think of these little changes that somehow make George’s movie perfect in his eyes and less so in the eyes of his fans.

Issue #3: What’s the deal with the prequels?

It's alright fangirl, just stare at me through the whole film. Yeeesss, this is the movie you were looking for!

It’s alright fangirl, just stare at me through the whole film. Yeeesss, this is the movie you were looking for!

Alright, so I actually don’t hate these movies as much as some fans do. The Phantom Menace was horrible in that it was boring, introduced Jar Jar Binks, and turned something as mysterious as the force into something you can explain with science. (Please don’t get me wrong, I think science is neat, I just hate that it tore down something I found so fascinating and mysterious as a kid.) Midi-chlorians are the dumbest idea ever. But Ewan McGregor is hot and Darth Maul is a badass so I guess it was alright.

Heeey awkward town!

Heeey awkward town!

Attack of the Clones was a bit better, but the blossoming romance between Anakin and Padme…ugh, I dunno it was distracting and seemed super forced. Maybe it was the acting, maybe the writing. I don’t know who to blame here, but again Ewan McGregor is a hottie and Yoda does some wicked awesome lightsaber fighting in this one, so that was nice.

Revenge of the Sith I actually liked. I think because Anakin is getting all evil and whiny. And then half his body gets burned off in an epic battle between him and Obi-Wan. So great! I know lots of people don’t like it, but I loooove the “NOOOOOOOO!” at the very end of the movie. It makes me laugh, even though I’m pretty sure that’s not the reaction they were going for.

I’ve got one tiny little problem with the prequels (aside from all the other stuff I just wrote about) and it’s that it seems that George doesn’t know his own story. Guy needed to sit down, watch 4-6, take a bunch of notes then start writing. What I’m about to say is super nit-picky so excuse me for a moment. In Return of the Jedi Luke asks Leia if she remembers her mother. And Leia says she does. But um, yeah Padme dies right after childbirth so how can Leia remember her mother?! Especially how sad she always looked?! How?! As a storyteller, this bugs the hell out of me! Know your story dammit! KNOW IT!

Ok, rant over.

All that to say, I feel bad for George. People can get really pushy. They make outrageous claims like “George Lucas raped my childhood.” Really folks? Really? Just because he made a few changes to his story your childhood is now ruined? It’s not as if he went back in time and changed your experience of the movie. Your memory remains the same.

I feel bad for George not just because of the really irritating fans but also because I don’t think he ever wanted to be the head of a gigantic corporation. He was a dreamer film student who wanted to make movies. He happened to make one that so many people loved it took over his life. I don’t think he set out to change the world. I think he just wanted to tell stories.

 

Good Reasons

I’ve got good reasons why there’s not blog post this week.

1. I’ve been drawing chibis all week and sweet sassafras, they are adorable.

2. I watched a few episodes of Naruto with some friends last night. Then I watched season 3 of Archer til it was well past time to turn off the telly. I managed to limit myself to the first three episodes. But then I went to bed and read a comic until 1am.

3. Mario Kart Wii has to be raced by someone right? Actually I haven’t been the one racing, it was my sister. Like I said I was busy drawing chibis.

4. I’ve been contemplating lots of different comic ideas. They’re not long ongoing stories, more like one shot quickies. (Heh)

5. I am lazy and have a hard time with time management so something always suffers. It’s too bad it’s my writing, it hasn’t suffered like this in a long while. Ah well, at least I’ve got my cute chibis.

Paper & A Mascot

You know what’s really funny is that before I started this blog I was already writing it. What I was doing was writing a post and instead of putting it up on the internets I was printing it out, making copies, putting them in coffee shops and mailing them off to friends. I even had my talented artist friend Harmony make me an adorable little mascot.

I’m going to call him Reginald, doesn’t he look like a Reginald? MAN! He’s so freaking CUTE!

He’s a Kangaroo Rat that’s all wet and sopping… cause he hangs out in Seattle… cause he moved there for… college. ANYway, I thought he was awesome and even put him on a t-shirt that I wore one time. I only wore it once cause it was after I started the blog and I was trying to get readers so I put the website on the t-shirt too, but then I felt like a tool wearing it cause it was my own website. Maybe if I had made a button instead, I love buttons. I could make mugs. Holy crap! I could do so much with him! I can see it now, it starts with buttons and mugs, then bookmarks, notebooks, stickers! The possibilities are endless! But then I’d be the tool with all my own paraphernalia. Maybe if I started a store online and sold that stuff. You all would buy something right? Then I wouldn’t be a total tool box.

Where was I going with this? Oh right, so I came across little Reginald here (seriously, don’t call him Reggie) while I was going through some old writing files. I have a bunch of old writing that I hang on to. It’s seriously the only thing I’m a total pack rat about, because a creative writing teacher once told me never ever to throw away any of your writing, even if you read it and it’s the most embarrassing thing ever. And boy do I have some embarrassing things, I was writing all through High School so I’ve got some real winners, but I will never throw them out. Even though they are ridiculously embarrassing, like your parents finding porn under your bed embarrassing. Which happened to me once, kind of. Wait, what was I saying?

Right, so old stories; I threw out one of my stories once. I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever written so I tore it out of my notebook and threw it away. Now I can’t even remember what made it so terrible and that drives me batty. Because who knows where inspiration is going to come from?! Maybe one day years from now I’ll be reading one of my terrible poems and it’ll inspire me to write something not terrible. Maybe I’ll write something amazing that will, in turn inspire several other people. You just never know, so I keep everything that I write. Then when I want to write something, but I’m feeling blocked I can go back and read what I’ve written in the past. That’s how I started writing Jude & the Zombies. I had been trying to write a decent zombie story for awhile and nothing was coming. So in addition to reading lots of zombie books, I read my own writing that I’d done. And poof, a story eventually bloomed and felt right.

I’m off on a tangent again. So I found Reginald in this file of stuff. I have files from when I was “publishing” this blog on paper. I was meticulous. I made a precise amount of copies and distributed them to a couple coffee shops and mailed some to “subscribers.” Looking back I feel sort of like an idiot. Why would I waste money and resources on something that very few people were reading? The owner of one of the coffee shops I was bringing them to said that a lot of people were reading them, but wouldn’t take them home. They would read it while they had a coffee then put it back. Which was nice. I’m glad they were reading it, but what was the point of making so many copies that weren’t being taken. It was silly. But I did it for ten weeks before Jordan asked me to stop wasting our money on Kinkos and stamps.

I think I was a little scared about starting a blog, because I had a couple already that no one read, so why would I start another one? I believe it was Jordan who pointed out that this blog would have a purpose. It had a theme, it wasn’t just a mishmash internal monologue that my first blog was, or a sporadically updated blog about being a starving writer that no one cared about. This was an actual thing.

I like to think that I haven’t strayed too far from the main topic of this blog. Overall it’s about me, my life, which I suppose would be interesting to some. I’m astounded that people read it and even equally astounded when a random person comes along and reads it. When they like a post, when they leave a comment, it’s amazing! I’m surprised by the community that exists with blogging. These other bloggers aren’t people I feel I’m competing with they’re fellow writers, and geeks. They’re friends and supporters. I look forward to reading their posts and laughing out loud at their wit.

Turning a bit sappy in here. I’m just glad that Jordan convinced me to start another blog, because even if the journey has been long and sometimes hard, it’s also been so rewarding. So thank you. Thank you all my readers! I love you. I really do.

My Fellow Writers

I call myself a writer, because I write fictional stories, memoir, and blog.  I’m not paid for it, but I hope to be some day. Writing is my passion, it’s how I process life.  I always feel so much better after I write something, almost anything.  I’m convinced someday I will find my calling and my writing will be more than a passing fancy or hobby.  When I’m not writing like a mad woman, I scour the internet, books, and any other resource I can get my hands on to find that ever elusive outlet for my writing.  In most of my internet scouring I’ve found the vast amounts of writers a bit intimidating.  There are so many people out there trying to get published that it’s discouraging.  I got to thinking today about those people.   These people claim to be working on their writing, searching for an agent, or a publisher.  Their comments on forums and message boards are always long winded and haughty; full of what seems to be knowledge regarding the publishing world.  I wondered how much each of those people truly spend doing honest to God writing, or real research towards getting their work out there.

I’m sure many of them are doing well as writers, or editors, but with so many responses, some as simple as “I totally agree with what so-and-so said” it seems they just sit at their computer all day ready to argue, agree or start a fight.  Maybe it’s their “break time” when they allow themselves to spend time on silly writers websites.

Don’t get your panties in a twist now.  I know there a great many excellent writers websites out there.  I visit some from time to time, but on the whole, many of those websites tell you what you already know.  Writing is a difficult career.  It’s nearly impossible to get published.  Even if you’re one of the most brilliant writers on the scene since Joyce, Hemingway or insert your favorite author name here, it’s still all too difficult to get published.  It’s obvious in the amounts self publishing sites.  The truth is as long as you’re willing to put in a few bucks you can get your book published.  It doesn’t even have to be good. You don’t even have to edit it!  You can publish any piece of shit you happen to type out on any given day.  I believe that it’s because of this that so many doors are being closed on decent writers.  No one wants to take a chance on an unknown writer because of all the market saturation that’s going on.

Maybe I’m the one that’s delusional and I can’t see the flaws in my own writing.  Perhaps I missed my true calling or perhaps I don’t really have one and I just am.  That’s a depressing thought considering how long I’ve been writing.  Oh well, at least I know there’s always self publishing.

Seriously…

I honestly don’t know what to write about today. I know it’s Tuesday and I’m a day late again.  I’m having a hard time balancing work and writing.  Not to mention a few other things.  I’ve had a few passing thoughts about what to write about; an examination of a few favorite authors, living in Seattle vs. Central Oregon, raising kids, getting pregnant, I’ve got a lot on my mind lately.

So I’m going to try to start my writing routine again. We’ll see if I can get this updated on time next week.  No promises though.