Thursday, November 29, 2012

Outlet Mall - Empty Wallet ...

 Like many other women in the area—and even some men—I’ve been looking forward to the opening of the Paragon Outlet Mall. But when I heard about the crowds and personally experienced the freeway delays just trying to get to Livermore, I decided I could wait a few days before checking out the latest bargains.

So after the crowds died down, I got a good night’s sleep, had a hearty breakfast, dressed in sportswear and athletic shoes (Life is Good T-shirt on sale at Marshall’s, jeans on sale at Kohls, Converse All-Stars on sale at Target) and headed for El Charro Road off ramp an hour before the doors opened.

    Naturally, I got there in fifteen minutes. There was very little traffic and no tie-ups on 580 the day I went, so I had plenty of time to circle the parking lot and find a space. I hung around near Saks until the witching hour when they finally let me inside, in spite of my suburban-grunge-chic outfit and Disneyland decorated purse.

    I browsed Saks for a few minutes until I realized I couldn’t even afford a pair of half-off socks, let alone something that covered up more skin. Trying to act cool as the sweat beaded on my forehead, I dashed to the other side of the store—and out into the open air mall.

    The place is huge. I didn’t count them, but I’d heard there were at least 130 stores, everything from Armani to Yankee Candles (surprisingly, nothing for the letter Z.)  Many of the brands I’d not heard of, but then, I’m not used to shopping on Rodeo Drive or wearing anything that costs more than my house payment. The stores I had heard of—Barney’s, Bloomies, Burberry—were out of my league, so I didn’t have the courage to even step inside. Instead I looked for brands I’m used to.

While they didn’t have any Life is Good t-shirts or Tom shoes or even Victoria Secrets underwear (not that I wear them), I did find a nice Converse store, a Ghirardelli Chocolate outlet, and a Chico’s shop. Unfortunately, I already own plenty of athletic shoes, leftover Halloween candy, and arty-looking tops, so I spent an hour walking by windows and searching for the food court.

There were half a dozen mini-restaurants to satisfy the hungry customer, but all I wanted was a bakery treat and coffee, so I ducked into Cinnabon for something called “Center of the Roll,” which means they just sell you the good part in the middle of the cinnamon roll (with extra sugary icing). Yum. I figured after all that walking, I’d burned enough calories to eat it guilt free.

    I never found the bargains I was looking for, but then my tastes are limited to cotton, denim, and fleece. A friend of a friend had hit the Prada—or was it Coach?—outlet and got a purse for half off. Of course, the purse was $2,000 to begin with, so half off still wasn’t within my budget. But the Cinnabon was tasty, the walk was good for me, and esthetics were pleasing. Plus, I didn’t have to spend two hours in my car trying to get off the freeway.

I’d call it bargain.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Writing Rituals

Writing about writing rituals

Instead of actually writing my book today, I decided to write down some ideas for writing rituals that get me into that writing state.  Boy, do I have a lot of rituals to deal with before getting those words on paper. Like:
1.    Begin at a certain time. I’m a morning person so I need to get to work early, before I run out of energy or life gets in the way.
2.    Nest. Instead of working in my office, I cozy up on the family room couch, put my feet up, wrap myself in a blanket, adjust all the pillows, and get to work.
3.    Look out the window. There’s something about gazing into my backyard that seems to help when I’m working on a particular sentence or story. Perhaps I think I’ll find the answer out there.
4.    Clean house. I can’t write if my surroundings are messy. It seems to make my brain messy. Granted, if someone walked in and saw my coffee table full of papers, notes, to-do lists, calendars, pens, and files, they wouldn’t think I had a clean mind at all.
5.    Take a walk. Usually I take a walk around Target or the Mall, rather than just a random walk around the block. I figure I can do some errands while getting some exercise and taking a break to work out a problem.
6.    Listen to music. I can’t listen while I’m writing, but I listen before and after, to get myself in a particular mood – Gangnam Style if I need energy, You Picked Me if I need romance, Zydeco if I need a mental break.
7.    Use a favorite pen. There’s only one kind of pen I like—a fine point marker. I feel like I’m drawing my words rather than just writing them. Love the way they feel on paper.
8.    Drink coffee. When I need a moment to reflect, I like to reach over and sip from my mug of coffee—a mocha, actually. Makes me feel like a writer.
9.    Be comfortable. I have a writing uniform—jeans, soft fluffy socks, and a Life is Good t-shirt. I can’t wear pajamas or I’ll go back to bed. And why dress up when it’s just me and the computer?
10.    Read. When I’m done for the day, I refuel by reading other people’s work. That usually inspires me to write better and keep at it!

So what are your writing rituals?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing Advice

Woman shooting computer
When I need writerly advice, I go to the experts. (I really should have these words of wisdom tattoed on my arm...)

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.  ~James Michener

The wastebasket is a writer's best friend.  ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood.  I'd type a little faster.  ~Isaac Asimov

A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one. ~Baltasar Gracián

I asked Ring Lardner the other day how he writes his short stories, and he said he wrote a few widely separated words or phrases on a piece of paper and then went back and filled in the spaces.  ~Harold Ross

Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.  ~Sholem Asch

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.  ~Agatha Christie

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.  ~Stephen King

It is plagiarism when you take something out of a book and use it as your own.  If you take it out of several books then it is research.  ~ Ralph Foss

It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write.  ~Sinclair Lewis

And finally...from William Safire

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"