Ten on Tuesday: Back from the Dead

I’ve heard abou Ten on Tuesday for years (version from here) and have often considered participating. The topic for this week was interesting so, well, here goes nothing.

10 Musicians I Would Bring Back From the Dead

1. My grandfather – what, he was a studio clarinet player. Totally counts. We’d spent far more time talking engineering than music but fine with me.
2. Keith Moon because Bell Hop didn’t sound all that great when done by the new guy.
3. The original lead singer for Journey
4. Tito Puente, if only to play Oye Como Va one last time
5. Bach so I can berate him for creating The Well-Tempered Clavier. Hated it when I took piano lessons
6. Holst to thank him for composing The Planets
7. Sousa because he seems like a fun guy to have a drink with. He probably preferred drinking Sidecars.
8. Bernstein so I could watch him conduct Soshtakovich’s 5th
9. Kurt Kobain but he could have just enough therapy to overcome his depression and drug abuse without being totally unable to write more songs
10. Barry White because, well, because he’s Barry White

More Natalie Says…

Whenever I feel like I need to write but can’t come up with something to actually write about or need general inspiration, I turn to Natalie Goldberg and either my Kindle or paperback copy of Writing Down the Bones. I turn to a random chapter and start reading until I get inspired. She’s full of advice about how to write, what to write about, but there’s also something about her words themselves, how she describes things that pulls me in. It wants me to be like her, to write more but also to write in such a way that I have most accurately captured whatever it is I want to say.

With the month almost half over, I’m sure I’m not the only NaBloPoMo-er looking for things to write about. And, of course, Natalie has plenty of ideas. So, let’s see what Natalie says.

  1. Talk about the quality of the light coming in through your window.
  2. Begin with “I remember.” Write lots of small memories. If you fall into one large memory, write that.
  3. Take something you feel strongly about, whether it is positive or negative, and write about it as though you love it. Go as far as you can, writing as though you love it, then flip over and write about the same thing as though you hate it. Then write about it perfectly neutral.
  4. Choose a color – for instance, pink – and take a fifteen-minute walk. On your walk notice whenever there is pink. Come back to you notebook and write for fifteen minutes.
  5. Write in different places – for example, in a laundry mat, and pic up on the rhythm of the washing machines. Write at bus stops, in cafes, write about what is going on around you.
  6. Give me your morning. Breakfast, waking up, walking to the bus stop. Be as specific as possible. Slow down in your mind and go over the details of your morning.
  7. Visualize a place that you really love, be there, see the details. Now write about it. What colors are thee, sounds, smells?
  8. Write about “leaving.” Approach it any way you want. Write about your divorce, leaving the house this morning, or a friend dying.
  9. What is your first memory?
  10. Who are the people you have loved?
  11. Write about the streets of your city.
  12. Describe a grandparent.
  13. Write about:
    • swimming
    • the stars
    • the most frightened you’ve ever been
    • green places
    • how you learned about sex
    • your first sexual experience
    • the closest you ever felt to God or nature
    • reading and books that changed your life
    • physical endurance
    • a teacher you had
  14. Take a poetry book. Open to any page, grab a line, write it down, and continue from there. If you begin with a great line, it helps because you start write off from a lofty place.
  15. What kind of animal are you? Do you think you are really a cow, chipmunk, fox, horse underneath?
  16. Make a list of your obsessions. Now you have a list of things to write about.
  17. Make a list of the stories you tell over and over – write those stories.

Professional Something

The prompt for today from the folks at NaBloPoMo got me thinking, yet again, about why I do this whole blogging thing.

Do you consider yourself a “professional” blogger? Why or why not? What does that mean to you?

My first response: Uh, no. I do not make a single cent off this blog, and never ever intend to do so.

Professionals get paid to, well, perform the duties of their profession. They provide a valuable service and get compensation in return. But what about folks for whom you could think of as having made a profession out of philanthropy or volunteering? Those folks have amazing skills, for which they could be paid, but are giving them away for the benefit of the organization. People plan fancy parties to get donations for organizations like St. Baldrick’s. There are certainly paid party planners out there. People who volunteer with FIRST Robotics could use their skills in engineering or teaching or organization or project planning to make money (though it is rarely as fun as doing so with FIRST).

So, really, the better question is, am I someone who blogs for whatever my reasons are for blogging, but use this skills for paid work?

Sort of. Let me explain.

I do actually know how to write. I can follow the proper rules for grammar and not use parenthesis and dashes. I can be clear and precise. I can explain how something works or why a decision could be made. Much of my job requires communication skills, about both highly technical and completely nontechnical topics. The common saying is that engineers can’t write. That’s just poor engineers. You can have an excellent idea, but it’ll never get implemented if you can’t explain its benefits.

Like I said, sort of. I could use my writing and my humor and whatever else you want to say I use to blog, but, in the end, I like just doing it for fun. I like not having to answer to someone paying me to do it. I don’t have to worry that I absolutely must post about something. My features, en, they haven’t happened in awhile. I’ll probably pick them up again, but it’s no big deal if I never do. As long as I keep writing, keeping recording, everything is gravy.

(Yeah, I’m posting this a day later than the prompt tells me to do, but I couldn’t get my act together in time to post this yesterday. Another perk of not being a professional blogger.)

Room with a View

Right now, I would love to be transported to my perfect writing location. It’s a clean yet cozy room, with a large window overlooking a beautiful scene. Something not tranquil but busy, so I can keep focused on what I’m working on, amused at the hustle and bustle outdoors. The room is cool but not too cool, at that temperature where you need to wear a fuzzy sweater and snuggle into your seat to be warm. There are other people here, working on their own writing or art. They provide me something to stare at or pay attention to when my head is too empty or too full to put words to paper. I talk to them occasionally, making small talk about the lack of decent coffee or the slightly too-cold temperature. I sit on one of those fancy chairs that’s both super comfortable and supportive of your back. It’s on wheels, rolling back and forth slightly as I fidget, the back rocking slightly at the same time. I have my laptop – a much faster and lighter one than the one I actually have – but also a yellow legal pad, whiteboard for outlining, and bunch of pens, colored pencils, and markers if I’m in the mood to draw. My water bottle is full of cold, filtered water but I also have a chilled Diet Coke, hot Cuban or Turkish-style coffee, and endless supply of gummy candies and salty snacks. (The laws of thermodynamics don’t work here, so everything stays at its ideal temperature always.) The table in front of me is large in width and depth, allowing me to fully spread out my things as I need to. There’s a small wastepaper basket a few feet away, at just the distance I could barely make baskets into when I reject a paper-recorded idea or feel like playing some basketball. There’s sound in the background that I either work actively to ignore or try to cover-up with my iPod, full of all of my favorite music that I’ve ever heard and set up so I have no wires hanging between my earbuds and the device itself so I don’t accidentally pull out the buds when I shift in my seat. I’m wearing fuzzy socks which isn’t a trip hazard because the floor is a soft, plush carpet.

Where’s your favorite place to write? Are you alone or surround by people? Do you listen to music or spoken word or just the sound of your typing?

(Above was a new response to the Room with a View topic which corresponds to Day 2 of Writing 101. I decided to go in a different direction than last time. This is one of those prompts that’s so general I can see myself coming back to it again and again.)