April 19th, 2010


20/20 Vision (Or Close Enough): I FINALLY See My Voice

Friday the clouds parted and the angels rejoiced. Why? I had a writing epiphany. After several months of frustration, a furrowed brow, and scratching my head each time someone said, “Be careful with your edits, Tracy, I think you’re cutting out your voice,” I FINALLY know what the heck people meant. Telling me, a newbie to the novel writing world, to maintain my voice is like telling a blind person without a cane to watch their step. My readers know what they mean. My critique partner knows what she means. I . . . well, I’m the blind girl about to take a fall.


Correction! I once was blind but now I see.


And this how I gained my sight.


Friday I decided I would not revisit Lost Voice (ah, the irony), the story I wrote for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). However, one of the characters in that story wears some funny t-shirts (i.e., “Despite the look on my face you keep talking,” “You’re not worth my daytime minutes”). I wanted to transfer that person’s edgy style into the characterization of the good friend of my main character in The Collector. TC is steeped in darkness and grief so I am always searching for opportunities for humor to give the reader, my character, and me a break from the sorrow. I opened up LV, which is written in first person, present, just like TC. The major difference between the stories is LV is . . . verbose while TC is  . . . vapid. However, I did not see this striking difference until I made the first transfer of text. I could see the silence in TC, white and beige. I could see the wild shouting in LV, hot pink and day-glow orange. I knew my voice rested somewhere in the middle. After all, I’m neither boring nor chatty all the time.  


So what does my voice sound like (regardless the story)? I talk in metaphors, so it stands to reason I use them in my writing. I tend to see the world in unique ways, which means my characters describe their world in unique ways. I like hidden meanings in words and dialogue. I like witty conversations. I like stories that thrust you into a mind-body experience, tugging on every emotion. I consider it a success if I make you laugh out loud and cry  . . . several times. My characters like these things too. Good thing, too, otherwise I would evict them all. Throw all these elements in a bag, give it a shake, and you get something called: whimsical and off-beat. (bogwitch64  labeled it and my betas agreed. Who freaking knew? Well . . . erm . . . apparently they did. I’m slow on the uptake.)


Now that I know what I tend to do when I write unrestrained and restrained, I can edit and write with my ideal in mind. Ah, sweet clarity. I will squeeze this moment to my bosom, because I know another head-scratching moment is lurking just over the horizon.




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    Awake and Alive by Skillet
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Protecting Beauty, One Bag At A Time

In honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2010, I’m doing a PSA. I hope 1) everyone will eventually use reusable bags; 2) my friends and strangers will know the answer to the following questions: a) Where did I get my reusable shopping bags? b) Where did I get my produce bags? c) How do I remember to bring them to the store?


I bought the original Green Bags (supposedly the bag used in Australia) before Target, Wal-Mart, and a host of other stores made a deal with Green Bag. I spent a weekend on line searching various options on www.ecobags.com . I chose the Green Bag because the straps are the perfect length for hand or shoulder carrying, they hold up to two plastic bags worth of food, and they were not the boring canvas bags that everyone carries (I don’t follow a trend unless it fits me). Who knew that my decision would spark a national trend? I’m just that powerful. Heeheee. The year I got my Green Bags, I gave all my friends and family 5 or 6 bags for their Christmas gift.


Shortly after I got my bags, I purchased a bag at the Body Shop www.thebodyshop-usa.com (none of their products are animal tested and they use natural ingredients). The proceeds go toward Domestic Violence Prevention. My dissertation is on Interpersonal Violence. I attend at least two conferences a year on the issue. It was a no-brainer purchase for me. Instead of using it to haul around silliness, I use it to carry my shopping bags. Each week some asks me about my colorful bag. And they see me pull out my fabulous Green Bags. Look at me, a walking billboard for a cause . . . two causes.


I purchased the fabric produce bags about six months after the GB’s, but from the same place: www.ecobags.com . I haven’t seen those in stores, but every week people ask me where I got them. I smile and tell them ecobags.com. I’m hopping I start another shopping revolution. J


Each week I carry my Body Shop bag full of Green Bags into such-and-such store. At the register I hand them to the cashier.  Then I bring my BS bag and my full GB’s into my apartment. When I’m done unpacking, I collapse them, put the GB in my BS and hang the BS bag on my doorknob. The next time I leave my house, I put them back in my car. I also have two fold-down bags (purchased at Target located with their Green Bags) the size of a checkbook. I carry them in my purse. They become the size of a shopping bag when unfolded. SO if I’m out shopping (clothes or food) I still get to be eco friendly.


We can debate global warming and the merits of being eco friendly. I have my opinions on the issue, but frankly I would rather debate the benefits and costs of consuming red wine and dark chocolate. BeI want the world to be a beautiful place for future generations. I don’t need a study or report to tell me that people are wasteful. I have two eyes and a heart that loves nature; they guide my decision.  


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    Beautiful Day, U2
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