One scene at a time

I have recently recommitted myself to my writing after a prolonged break. And by break I don’t mean that I wasn’t writing at all. I mean that I wasn’t working on a specific project for very long, and I wasn’t writing every day.

For me the only way to get a book written is to write approximately 1000 words a day. That is about the length of one of my scenes. I have tried different methods in the past. At my personal busiest I tried for 500 words a day. The problem with that pace was that I couldn’t make progress fast enough, and I sometimes didn’t complete my thought before finishing my daily quota but I would walk away anyway because I had other shit to do. I’ve also tried for 1500 words a day. Though it’s not a ridiculous amount, I found myself burning out quickly, and it needed to be 1000 or 2000 to get my scene lengths right.

A scene a day is the best way for me to keep my forward momentum without stressing myself out and giving up. I love writing, but it can become just another responsibility if let it. And who wants to be stressed out by his or her art?

It takes me about an hour to write 1000 words. But that is the actual writing of words that I keep and don’t delete. I’m usually “writing” for more than an hour. But this gives me time to write blog posts, edit what I’ve already written, grocery shop, cook, do laundry, exercise, pick my kids up from school, and read. The other parts of my life demand just as much attention.

As part of my renewed commitment, I’m learning how to say “no”. I have a big problem with over-planning, as any of my good friends can attest. It’s tough for me, as I’m very social and I feel a responsibility to volunteer for school activities.

Books don’t write themselves. And I can carry ideas in my head forever without using them. But any writer can tell you that there’s nothing more frustrating than failing to get words down on paper. So I’m going to keep going now. I’ll go scene by scene.

It’s her fault

My friend  Laura Ellen Scott posed an interesting question at the end of a blog post a few months back. The question was what does your family/community think of what you do, and does that affect how you write?

My mom isn’t crazy about my writing. Don’t get me wrong: she does the best she can when reading my swear-leaden prose which conflicts directly with her Southern Baptist morals. She encourages my art, but can’t avoid saying things like “I’m not crazy about the language”.

I don’t write things she disagrees with on purpose. It’s my muse’s fault.

My muse is a foul-mouthed, white-trash sadist. Think 1990’s Courtney Love, only Southern and into pills instead of heroin.  I don’t mind a bit. I made peace with her a long time ago. The problem lies with some of my loved-ones.


My mom asked me to send her a copy of my next book with all of the “bad language” blacked out with a marker. I happily agreed. It’s a compromise I can live with, even if it my integrity suffers a little. Mothers are worth compromising integrity for now and again.

Really, it's no problem. It's not like I mind censorship or anything. I mean, what writer does?
Really, it’s no problem. It’s not like I mind censorship or anything. I mean, what writer does?

I have tried to tone it down, to write things more suitable for my mostly conservative family. But the writing reflected my restraint, and that wasn’t okay.

My community of friends and writers aren’t as squeamish about foul language, fornication and overdoses. They accept that my muse would never be invited to sit on the PTA. But I am not my muse. I’m just a writer.

A day in the life


People are always asking me, “Girl, WHAT are you doing all day now that your kids are in school?” Well, I’m here to tell you that my life has never been fuller. Here’s a sample of my day:

7:45 Everybody out! See you on the flip-side, suckas.

7:46-8:00 Coffee time! This is when I unload the dishwasher, etc.

8:01-8:30 Catch up on the headlines. I need reasons to be depressed.

8:31-9:00 Forget what I was about to do so I sit on the bed and watch some crap from the DVR.

9:01-10:00 Weep for my wasted youth and listen to some tunes.

10:01-11:30 Write and/or lose time on the internet.

11:31-12:00 Weep for the day that is slipping away from me.

12:01-12:30 Lunch time! A girl’s gotta stay fueled!

12:31-1:00 Feel guilty for eating too much. Stand in front of the mirror and pick out my flaws.

1:01-2:00 Weigh the pros and cons of cosmetic procedures. Reassess my values.

2:01-2:45 Feel bad about my wasted day, take a shower, and start some laundry.

2:46 Time to leave for school! My little cherubs await.

After that it’s a blur of homework, lessons, snacks, and laughter!

Throwback Thursday

I’m purging my house and finding lots of treasures. Maybe not lots, but a few. Okay one. I found one treasure.

Years ago (about 20) I was in a writing funk that wouldn’t lift. My bestie since I was 14 (what up, Ashlee??) put together a collection of my work to inspire me. A lot of the prose wouldn’t make sense to you guys because it centers around private jokes. But the writing that follows won’t make sense simply because it doesn’t make sense.  Please enjoy the following poems from my youth. xoxo



If I had a dollar,

I’d buy your mama,

And mail her to Egypt.

They make good

Wal-Marts there.



I like to think of my legs as land and the hairs on them simply as trees. Trees should not be cut down. It really feels good to help out the environment.



Three blind mice.

Where are their eyes?

Oh, here they are,

in my pocket.


I think this answers the question of whether or not I’ve always been a lyrical genius. Thanks for being my muse, Ashlee.

Prepping for the last year of my 30’s

My 39th birthday is coming very soon, friends. I’m preparing with a simple list of resolutions, and lots of drinking. It’s never to late to better/pickle yourself.

Here is my list of resolutions for my last year as a 30-something:

Stop trying to bait Lindsay Lohan with my blog posts. I need to accept that she probably won’t ever be my friend, no matter how much she needs me.

Stop getting angry when people use too many internet abbreviations.

Give up wine for a while. JK! LOL! ROFLMAO! FML!

Wash my bras more often.

Stop telling people about my hemorrhoid surgery. Apparently that’s not appropriate small talk.

Clean up my language. A woman my age should not be using words/phrases like buttload, crapload, shitload, shit-ton, turd* monkey, turd jerky, turd knocker, fart knocker, toot knocker, douche nozzle, douche monkey, sir toots-a-lot, sir farty car, professor fart face, monkey butt, monkey bottomus, poopie pants, butthead, butthole, butt puppet, butt nugget, turd nugget, turd waffle, or butt waffle. I call myself a writer for shit’s sake. I really need to rethink my vocabulary.

I think it’s obvious that I’m ready to take 39 by the gnards. Bring it!

*For those of you who are aware of my long-standing issue with the word turd not being spelled terd, you’ll be glad to know that I’m working past it.

Why I don’t mommy blog

Because I’m a writer with a blog and I have a couple of kids, people (women) sometimes ask me why I don’t “mommy blog”. Here’s why: I tend to keep this part of my life for myself (gasp).

Many women will admit (some won’t) that when you become a mother you lose a part of yourself. You also gain a new, different self who’s more sympathetic and nurturing, but you lose the part of you that was just you without anybody else to constantly worry about. It’s a huge freaking adjustment.

Like a lot of Gen Xer’s, I waited until my 30’s to have kids. By then I was firmly rooted in my sense of self. My very free self who liked to stay out too late and take lots of naps. When I had a baby, the options to stay out too late, take lots of naps, and be a selfish asshole were removed. It was time for that to happen anyway. No sweat. But the overhaul of self was unexpected.

I was a person before motherhood. Not a perfect person by any means, but I like to remember those days in little ways. My blog is a “safe place” for me. I say what I want because no one is forced to read it. I don’t write about motherhood here (except this time of course) because I’m a mother ALL THE TIME and here I’m just a struggling writer who spends too much time thinking about that date-rapey episode of Louie and wondering if Lindsay Lohan would like me if we met in real life. Here I don’t have to worry about whether or not my kids are getting enough fruits and veggies (they’re not) or if I’m screwing them up permanently (I am). Here I can just take a deep breath and make fun of Kim Kardashian’s fashion choices.



Blog Love

I read a book with my son lately titled “Ralph Tells a Story”. It’s about a little boy looking for inspiration to write a story. It reminded me of something I already know: inspiration is everywhere.

One of my goals for 2014 is to be more consistent with this blog. Scapegoats and Sacred Cows is my sounding board, and kind of like therapy for me. For some reason, I pretend it’s a safe place where I won’t be judged. I know that’s not true, but I do know if someone doesn’t like the words they can stop reading.

The blog comes in last place among my writing priorities, even though it requires the least effort. I struggle to find subject matter when inspiration is everywhere. But this year will be different. Once a week, my friends, there will be some popping prose from this blog for you to devour. That may require more guest posts, but I promise to select my guests carefully.

Also, in my reader stats from wordpress I’ve noticed that I get the most traffic if the words “naked” or “boobs” are in the title. You guys are pervs. Have I told you lately that I love you?


Digging deeper to string my thoughts into coherent words. Sculpting a statue I can’t touch, my fingertips keeping moving. A flare for the dramatic and a need for privacy. I don’t want you to look too closely, but I want you to pay attention.

I’ll say everything and reveal nothing. Everyone knows a part of my story, but nobody knows it all. My life in breadcrumbs, spread out in prose. Because that’s the way I do it.


“It’s been that kind of day around here,” she says. “You’re lucky you showed up today.”

“What kind of a day?” I ask, staring at my beat-up Converse and thinking that I should wear a better pair of shoes the next time I show up to life.

“A day of confession. A day of epiphany. A day of relief.” She rubs lipstick on her lips, puckers and smiles broadly for an invisible camera.

“I should have dressed better for this. Worn make-up, brushed my hair.”

“But you did.” She presses a compact into my hand. “Look.”

Pinky-peach powder crumbles over my palm as I open the compact. The woman I see in the mirror is not me, but a woman I used to know. Face painted like a mask, yes. Long hair, freshly highlighted, yes. Wrinkles, no. But not me. She was someone I shed in order to grow.

“But you don’t shed yourself like skin.”

“Did I say that or did you?” I ask, or does she? The words have already evaporated.

“You can have this back.” The compact passes from my hand to hers.

“You’ll want it again soon. And I’ll keep it safe until then.”

Her high heels walk away. Click, clack, click, clack. A private conversation they’re having with the floor. And my beat-up Converse remain silent.

Lost in a World of My Own Creation

The experience of writing a book is different for each person during each manuscript. I am currently working on my fourth novel-length manuscript. The common thread I have found in each experience for me is a tendency to become so submersed that I don’t lose touch with reality, but I try to detach from it. My brain functions in the novel world at the same time as the real world, how much in each one depends on the circumstances of each world. I have to decide who needs me the most.

If I get stuck in my writing, I become depressed. If I become depressed, I get stuck in my writing. When I’m stuck I imagine my characters exactly where I left them (standing in a kitchen, asleep in a stranger’s bed, lying in a pool of blood, etc.) until I get back.

A lot of people obsess over their work, though. I’m sure we writers aren’t as special as we like to think we are.  

Writers are easily distracted, self-centered, impulsive messes. We can’t help it. Please be patient. Some writer you know might have some serious shit going down in their other world.