How’s the Weather Up There?

A blogger I enjoy reading mentioned she is on the shorter side. I was surprised; she writes with a comfortable confidence and lexicon. She bestows advice, sounds self-assured, and describes life events that intimidate me.

I had pictured her tall.

And, I hadn’t realized I pictured her as tall.

Also, I didn’t realize that I had yet again broken a personal rule: don’t judge another as ye hate to be judged.

I may not have made up the phrasing for that rule on my own, but it’s how I feel. Most of my life I’ve heard or felt or experienced opinions based solely on appearance. My sorest issue is age: “Oh, that’s because you’re young,” “You’re too young to have seen this….” “Wow. You’re so young!” Hardly something to complain of, I know; yet, it’s a way of demeaning me and my wisdom, experience, and perspective. I have felt a distinct shift in treatment after another woman learns my age.

Another box I hate being placed in is the female one. Because I have boobs I must automatically like Pinterest, have my nails done, watch ….(what are women watching these days?) The Bachelor?, read romance novels, enjoy the color pink, and not have a reasonable opinion about politics or mechanical objects.

The list continues, and is the main source of why I hate being categorized.

I forget that I turn around and apply the same principle all over the place with height. I probably forget this because I am usually taller than other women and enjoy a small level of not being bothered or harassed as much because of it.

That, and my RBF. …Something I also learned the term for recently, because my expression may have scared people away from enlightening me…

The point is that I simply did not know I was hypocritical when it came to height until I finally got some higher altitude, and shortly thereafter met my husband’s family. This initial realization came about around 18 years ago.

His family is mostly very intelligent and talented as he is …and is on the shorter side. His oldest sister barely reaches 5 feet tall with static in her hair; her husband just an inch or two over. When I first met this sister and her family I thought something like, They’re like cute, little hobbit people. I’ve also thought some sort of wonderment that they are whole, complete, extremely bright and opinionated peoples (their entire little family, including all six children they now have) and yet are so small.

Like, how rude is that?

The second time I distinctly noticed I had become a height-ist was when I met my only brother’s wife. She’s taller than I and I found the experience disconcerting. I realized I walked about the world acting like the pickup truck in a lane of sedans.

It’s true.

I mean, I am unfailingly polite to strangers. I am deferential to people like store clerks or overladen mothers or anyone approaching a door or the elderly. When I pay attention, however, I see others automatically yield the right of way. I am given a space in conversation. I am listened to when I apply myself. I had nothing to contribute to the #metoo movement and was confused by how many females had issues.

Is it really all due to height?

I’m certain it helps.

Way back when I took an acting class in college, we learned about rôles. We read that every single time a person interacts with another he engages in a psychological exchange; a battle, even. The result of this is an assignment of rôles and a placement of one person over the other. We learned it in relation to how we needed to act a scene, but I’ve found the idea revelatory in the real world.

Height or lack thereof places one in a higher or lower position, literally.

For my part, I can’t help it. I’m not going to chop off my legs or walk around on my knees. (Although I have noticed I slouch more around a room of shorters and stand more upright in tallers.) On the flip side, we’re not likely to give less-tall peoples stilts, either.

Instead, let’s remember two important things:
I can, and am willing to, reach the cookies on the shelf above the fridge for others.
And, shorter people live longer (according to my husband).

zebra-1170177_1920

Light THIS Candle, Bub

So… September is Suicide Prevention Month. I’ve read a few hundred posts about it, due to my connection with the mental illness community. Instead of feeling inspired to ‘make people aware,’ however, I’ve become downright ticked off.

What are we hoping to accomplish?

Why, we want fewer people killing themselves, obviously.

OBVIOUSLY? I think you’re missing an ‘LI’ in that word. The correct term is OBLIVIOUSLY.

Granted, I’m not suicidal. I have not been, technically, since I have not sat upon a bridge or held a bottle of pills or even touched a razor to my skin without intending to use it to remove body hair.

I have stood at the top of the stairs, the edge of a parking structure, and the balcony of a massive performing hall -and sensed the sweet boundary of vertigo gravity beckons with. I’ve thought the question. I have wanted an end.

Dark thoughts for a Sunday? They won’t be eliminated by a candle, that’s for sure.

jarl-schmidt-557318-unsplash

Perhaps the tiny flickering glow in a few windows or on a few websites will warm others’ hearts, but that sort of ‘support’ has the opposite effect on me. Given that my depressive mindset is echoed by nearly every mental illness sufferer with Depression I’ve read, I feel confident setting down my little soapbox and ranting.

For example, a Facebook acquaintance of mine posted a very moving message regarding suicide. S/he admitted to having clinical depression and attempting suicide and how s/he felt about life sometimes. Writhing a bit in envy I read her/his 50+ comments of We love you, Thank you for sharing; you are brave, and You’re such a great person so don’t feel this way.

Internet hugs.

I’m sure a few people also managed to send out a text. You know: Saw on FB you’re sad. 😦 LMK if I can do anything. *Hugs*

After envy, I felt mad.

Want to prevent suicide, people? For real? Not just say or write so but feel and love so? Get away from your phone or keyboard and connect with people. Pull your head out of your apps and talk to a human -especially if that human has displayed signs of depression and/or suicidal desires.

Not sure what those signs are?

  1. Negative perspective to the point of poor self-esteem and a terrible outlook.
  2. Loss of interest in activities or life in general.
  3. Irritability.
  4. Extreme fatigue and lack of motivation.
  5. Over- or undereating.
  6. Insomnia. This may exhibit in late-night social media messages.
  7. Withdrawal. If a person stops writing online, doesn’t answer texts, or has literally said, “Goodbye,” alarm bells ought to be going off.

Maybe you feel like you can’t do everything for everyone and the candle-lighting will give you that small “I did what I could” pat on the back. I can relate; I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work life already takes, plus I’m depressed and can barely see outside the walls of my own house some days.

Still, we can do little things.

Try a vocal phone chat instead of a text. Run a store-bought cookie over to your friend and sit down and have a conversation. Pause for longer than a, “Fine,” when passing on the street and listen to a person’s day. Put your phone down, make eye contact, and act like you care. For bonus points, invite a neighbor out to lunch and a good visit. Heck, even hand-write a note (you know, with pen and paper, maybe even inside an envelope) and mail it to them if you can’t get to them easily.

A little thing may actually save a life. And that’s our goal.

If you, yourself, are considering the pull of gravity on the edge of life and can’t possibly talk to your family and friends, use the hotline (1-800-273-TALK). Heck, there’s even a text line if you’re too shy to talk (text NAMI to 741-741). They’re nice people. They care. They’re safe.

Depression, Anxiety and Lethargy.

I am officially breaking my “no re-blog” rule with the ever-hilarious Katie. Only a woman who names her depression Betty and her bicycle Claude could aptly refer to dealing with depressive lethargy as “wading through treacle whilst carrying a donkey on (her) back.”

Katie’s even gone the extra mile this time and given some sound, anti-donkey advice.

All You (Perhaps Didn’t) Want to Know About LASIK

I’ve put this off for awhile now, mostly because I don’t want my street cred as a depressive, put-upon, real-life person to be ruined. HOWEVER, when I was looking into getting laser eye surgery last year, I was frustrated that no one actually detailed the event to my satisfaction.

I’m a worrier. For some reason, I like to know exactly when the dentist is going to stab my gums or the moment when the scalpel will be applied during a Cesarean. In short, I hate surprise pain.

And so, a little over a year ago and thanks to reckless spending of Uncle Sam’s return, I had LASIK. Not only that, but I wrote about my experience once permissible to use my eyes. I include it here in the hopes that some other morbidly curious potential surgery-receiver may be helped by it.

I also split it into three parts, for your squeamish level convenience.

After all of the descriptions is the summary. Pick whichever section works for you, then scroll down to the three asterisks.

May 12, 2017

Safe Description (your queasy, paranoid grandmother could read this and not faint):
After sitting through a consultation in December, I finally scheduled and lay through laser eye surgery.
It was freaky but cool.
I seemed to be able to see as expected, so it worked.
Yay!

matt-evan-69463-unsplash
———————————————-
Medium Description (you’ll only pretend to cover your eyes two or three times, but actually be fascinated):
In December, I sat through a standard consultation appointment at Hoopes Vision. It was free. It involved a video on an iPad, an exam with an eye doctor, and Dr. Hoopes himself talking to me about The Procedure. Then, I met with a man who discussed cost and price-matched what a neighbor of mine had been charged over five years ago. (It was still, understandably, a lot of money.)

After a few jinxed attempts at scheduling, I arrived ready for surgery the morning of May 11. This meant that I had arranged for payment, babysitting, a ride, two prescriptions, rewetting drops (that turned out to be the wrong kind), and self-control in the face of a terrifying situation.

Kevin (my ride and my husband) and I met with a woman who took our money and witnessed me signing the release agreement.
I was handed a summary of what-might-possibly-happen-during-each-laser, and it somewhat concerned me.
Then, we sat through a live human who gave us an automated message regarding surgery and recovery procedure (she did not crack a smile or deviate from her paperless script).
At her query, I reiterated that I did not wish to ingest the standard drinkable Valium. I was going in sober.
She put blue cloth covers (booties) over my shoes and a matching larger version (shower cap) over all the hair on my head.

I had another eye exam with a Dr. Macintosh because it had been nearly six months since the one during consultation. Six months is their cut-off time to get the surgery done, else one has to pay for a new consultation. She assured me that the summary description was generalized and I would not, in fact, feel pressure or black out as it suggested might happen. Yes, she’d had LASIK. Yes, she was still alive and could see.

I used the bathroom.

Just before entering The Room, I sat in a chair and had numbing drops put in each eye by another assistant. She explained that it would sting (it didn’t) but that was how I knew it worked. I explained to her that it didn’t feel nearly as bad as putting the wrong contact solution in one’s eye, and was personally concerned that it hadn’t worked because I hadn’t thought it stung. She assured me it had.

We entered The Room. Kevin sat outside. I was led to a space-age “bed” with a head area and a roll of cloth that was to sit under my legs. I lay as directed, and panicked a bit that they were just going to fire it up without telling me first. They talked me through another numbing drop in my right eye, applying stickers to my top and bottom lashes, and a special support to hold that eye open.
I saw a ball of light, like a picture of an atom in a science-fiction movie. Dr. Hoopes talked me through the machine getting into position and explained that the light was going to move around and then fade a bit.
Before you decide you’re too squeamish: It did not hurt. The only uncomfortable part was that the support piece holding the eye open poked my eye socket a tad. I have small eyes.
The right eye was done first, then the left. Each eye took fifteen seconds.

After moving the bed to the right, I sat up and walked over to lay under a different machine. This one had three colors of lights: two red to the right and left, and one green in the center. Things looked a bit blurry, but they always do for me.
Dr. Hoopes talked me through taping down eyelids/lashes and wetting my right eye then lifting the cornea. This is your second squeamish part. Again, it did not hurt. From my perspective, the lights got a bit blurrier. He told me to watch the green light; to keep track of it. The assistant said it would be nine seconds. The machine made a noise, Dr. Hoopes explained that the green light would blur a bit but it would be back again, and nine seconds later it was done.
He explained his actions in wetting and replacing the cornea.
They repeated this with the left eye, but it only took six seconds.

The bed moved, I sat up, and they led me from the room.

I was told to keep my eyes closed for ten minutes, while I sat in the chair I’d been in for my eye exam a few minutes prior.

Dr. Macintosh came back in, smiling and congratulating me. She looked at each eye, reminded me of the specific follow-up procedures, and gifted me a pair of cool shades.
She recommended we stop at Costco to purchase the correct rewetting eye drops.

I was on a schedule of Prednisolone (steroid) drops every two hours, Oxysomethingorother (antibiotic) every four, and rewetting drops every fifteen to thirty minutes. Expecting to have to record wet vs. soiled diapers as well; we were told that, unlike caring for a newborn, I only needed to apply the eye drops whilst awake.

Speaking of, I was also given two plastic eye shields to tape across my eye area when I slept. DO NOT APPLY ANY PRESSURE TO YOUR EYES in the next 24 hours, I was told -even to wipe away drop solution.

nonsap-visuals-511403-unsplash
———————————————-
Gory, Detailed Version (Do not read this if you can’t handle the truth):
I will only fill in some extra pieces to the Medium Description so we don’t overload l’internet.

The consultation video one watches on the iPad is informative, giving you the same information I did in the medium description. It tells you that the cornea will be cut by an amazing process of creating air bubbles in between the corneal layers to naturally sever its connection.
The video and their descriptions are detailed enough that you can safely say Hoopes didn’t mince words, but not so technical that you know the names of the founders of laser surgery and which machine they’re currently using at which speed per second laser, etc. That information is on a timeline on the wall, for Pete’s sake.
Many of the assistants have had LASIK. Dr. Hoopes himself had it done waaay back when, under much less safe conditions. He laughed and explained that his took more like a minute each eye, instead of a few seconds.
I found out that I have really good eyes for surgery. Who knew thick corneas were a desirable attribute? I also learned that surgery very rarely goes “wrong,” and most of those errors can be -and are- fixed by follow-up surgery.

Thursday of the surgery, we arrived almost-on-time. We handed over a cashier’s check for close to $4000. If you felt faint at that, you probably shouldn’t keep reading while I tell about the laser cutting my eye and such.
You’ve been warned.
I signed an agreement that said that many things could go wrong, although they weren’t likely to. It literally said they could not list every possible outcome and that I was agreeing that this was all elective and that I knew what I was doing.

The paper we were given from Assistant Robot Woman said that the first laser needed to come down and form a suction around my eye. It would apply a light pressure, and I might have my vision go completely black for a full minute.
I wasn’t able to read over all of the warnings about the second laser due to time, though Dr. Macintosh assured me (as I stated) that it wasn’t really as bad as I imagined it would be. She was right.

I was concerned about the numbing drops working because of perfectly normal paranoia, and also because of experiences with oral surgery and baby removal surgery in which the anesthesia had not fully saturated when they began operations.
Happily, Hoopes was correct. My eyes were numb.

I panicked a bit internally when the first machine came down toward my eye and formed its suction on the plastic plate. At the advice of Dr. Hoopes, who was detailing each step in a comforting tone, I trusted it would not hurt and that I was simply looking at a light.
It didn’t, and it is just a light. A glowing, ball-like light that moved in a circle; fading to a pinprick and then reappeared as a stationary, blurry ball.

On the second machine, the panicking part for me was the smell. As the laser was cutting for its nine seconds on one eye and six seconds on the other, I had trouble maintaining to my logical side that it was just a light when I could distinctly smell burning.
It did not hurt. It was not uncomfortable. It was just concerning.
I mentioned the smell to Dr. Hoopes. He agreed that the smell was there, and further explained that the laser used something called “cold heat,” and that doctors used lasers for years before a more technical sales person explained exactly why they could smell something as it worked. He also told me that the doctors performing this surgery repeatedly developed complications from ingesting the extra materials and now they all wear specially-formulated facial guards and why was his pink but his assistants got blue ones?
Just pull a blue one from their box. Sheesh.

matheus-vinicius-483878-unsplash

————————————–
***It’s safe to look now.***

After the procedures, Dr. Macintosh explained that my vision was like looking through water. I thought it was like looking underwater while wearing contacts. I could see, in a different sort of blurry than I usually did, and with the sensation of having a contact lens in.
In fact, I told several people this summary since: I felt like I left my contacts in for too long, and wanted to pull them out. But, I couldn’t pull them out because they were my corneas and I needed to leave those in.

At the follow-up appointment nearly 36 hours after the procedure, I was cleared to drive and told I had 20/15 vision.
I still had the sensation of the old contacts, however, and was told this would remain for about three days.
The steroid and antibiotic drops needed to be put in every four hours for a week, then discontinued. The rewetting drops needed to be used every hour for a week, then throughout the day for a few months.

I was banned from high-impact activities like swimming (for one month) or water skiing (six months?) or impregnation (three months).

Such is the miracle of sight. Thank you for reading.

unsplash-logoMatt Evan
unsplash-logoNonsap Visuals
unsplash-logoMatheus Vinicius

The Blue-Green Pill

Glasses

“You take the red pill, …and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Some small part inside me loves Morpheus’ challenge: Do you have what it takes to see and accept the truth? While others might settle back down on the couch, chewing another handful of Cheetos, I foolishly stand.

Truth is a deep motivator for me. I cannot be fully religious because of this, by the definitions of many sects. I squeeze under the radar of my current denomination, by telling myself I trust it will all be cosmically explained someday.

My rational voice, upset by a few years of Atheism, plays Devil’s Advocate (ironically). It warns that no explanation will come when I cease to exist.

Why bring up such things? This is where my mind goes; this is the side effect of swallowing the left-hand option.

Surely my mindset, worldview, and even depression are Truth. They are me, as much as my blood type or detached earlobes. I need to be true to myself, to accept myself, and -above all- to not smother my emotional expression.

And yet… my daily red dosage has somehow morphed to a less-swallowable shape.

I noticed a slightly misshapen quality when I began listening to a counselor. “Your core is never negative,” she told me. Furthermore, she said my depressive reactions and tendencies were all learned behaviors.

I read self-help books on the subjects of happiness and self-esteem. They made valid points as well; like, that people honestly can raise their baseline of happiness.

However, all the psychological affirmations and literary anecdotes in the world were not enough. With or without seeking Truth, it came anyway. It laughed at my hopes and optimisms as I repeatedly returned to the dark corner of my mind.

On Facebook, I wrote the following:

When I spoke fluttering lies and raised my smiling mask, I cried inside.
But you didn’t know.

I tried to write about sunshine, as my heart grew ever overcast.
You didn’t look between the lines.

I sat in my small, shadowed corner at home, as you visited each other and laughed.
And didn’t care.

Sometimes I curiously contemplate the world without me there. Surely my departure will cause a ripple somewhere.
Instead, you’ll stand with the friends you always do, and say, “I didn’t know.”
And forget what was never known.

I got a few internet hugs in response. I felt morosely validated that, yes, they did not care.

The problem is that there is no red pill. We cannot be freed from our minds, because we are delicately and intricately attached to them. And, Truth is always, always affected by our perceptions.

Had real-life Neo entered my counselor’s office with me, he may have been given a third option: a doctor’s referral.

I’ve been dreading medical intervention for years; assuming, as I said earlier, that I would lose myself. I also assumed I would only ever have the option of anti-depressant, horrible-side-effect, me-changing medication.

Instead, I have been offered the blue-green pill.

It’s a small dose of seratonin: popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.

I’ve swallowed it once daily for the last three weeks. I thought there to be no difference, but my husband disagreed. Given that I’ve had only one depressive episode since first taking it, he may be right.

In fact, I have been able to think in a manner that is less depressive just this weekend -a first for me. I attended a few social events Friday and Saturday; and did not feel the lingering effects of my usual, self-critical social hangover.

I feel able to agree with and utilize the strategies outlined, previously, by my paid friend and the self-help book.

I see, now, the red pill was the placebo all along. To change my life for the better I needed a new perspective -not some supposed Truth. It could not come from only me, however, since I stand a few feet lower in the ground than others.

Are you, like me, sunk in the Swamps of Sadness? Affirmation will not work. Get someone to look at all your options. Even if the dry ground you need is found through heavier medications, I can now say it’s worth it.

The Gift of a Child with Behavioral Problems

Guess what? I have a present for you; aren’t you excited? Open your womb and pull it out!

It’s a boy!
(Or, a girl. For me, I can only make boys).
He looks just like both of you! You look at each other fondly. Tiredly, but happily; proudly.

The best part of this present, though, is yet to be opened for a few years. You may not notice for a while, because no child is perfect. Every time an issue arises, or you feel frustrated, commiserating people say, “That’s just normal.”

But, where are those comments when you sit across from a preschool director and hear about your son defiantly looking right at his teachers as he pushes a child off the play equipment?

What do they say when his first grade planner has notes from the teacher of escalating issues? Notes like, “He threw a chair,” “He was biting.”

Only Pavlov’s dog empathizes with the increased heart rate and anxiety your body undergoes when you see the school calling again.
You can’t go far; the school might be calling.

You know, secretly, that you’ve actually produced a monster. In fact, an applicable example in classical literature is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

A great side benefit? Teachers, administrators, and doctors keep hinting -and outright telling you- that the problem is you.

You already know you were the root problem, if you birthed the child. You already blame yourself whenever he misbehaves, since your grassroots efforts of parenting don’t produce robot responses from your children.

It’s all true, though: you made the monster. And, as his parents, you will always be the ones who will need to fight for him.

You’re going to be embarrassed, frustrated, deeply saddened, angry, ignorant, and human. You’re going to do the wrong thing, and smack yourself figuratively for “triggering” the behaviors.

You’ll wonder how this ungainly bird could ever be expected to leave the nest without leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

Cry. Get angry. Eat chocolate.
Then, find a good pediatrician. Find a good therapist. Find people to complain to. Find the free resources out there for others like you.

You’ll have to start using those over-used terms. You know -the ones you rolled your eyes about: ADD, ADHD, ODD, Autism, Sensory Disorder.
Embrace them. They’ll be your new excuse, now that you can’t use “normal” to describe childhood behavior.

This is one of those gifts like a free car: the car may be free, but the taxes, licensing, and insurance are not. You’re going to have to do more than unwrap.

You’re going to have to be an expert parent.

Dang it.

Aoede’s Influence

My mind feels nothing lately. I sit here, at a computer desk, fingers poised over keys, typing emptiness.

“Ah, you have writer’s block,” you may observe. I love to disagree, but I feel the word block indicates that there was some flow previously.

In considering my lack of creative energy or inspiration, I reflect on Muses. I’ve been reflecting since reading over Mike Allegra’s and D. Wallace Peach’s characterizations of Muses. The former described his as an ice cream-stealing rat (an intelligent, domesticated one), the latter claiming hers hired a mercenary.

Mine, in the meantime, is beyond fashionably late.

She or he or it is not entirely necessary for writing. However, I need something to create what lays before you, or what fills the space between pictures of my content-writing job.

I try. I do.

The ceremony to call upon a Muse can be much like a séance, conjuring, or sacrificial ceremony. “Here, take my children,” I say to the television screen. “And, here are the five pounds I managed to lose last month,” I tell our chocolate stash. I light the computer’s candelabra and pray.

Despite my best movie marathons or sugar-splurges, my efforts usually summon Muse’s distantly-related cousin’s best friend’s significant other: Motivation.

And even she often shows up hungover. It’s time for something stronger.

Before turning to literal flames or pentagrams, I turn to my gym bag. Inside, twisted in on itself, rests my mP3 player and headphones. Besides the creative gifts we enjoy, headphones are the greatest blessing a distracted artist may ever receive.

Properly attired, I may focus on the influence of Aoede instead of the distractions of everything.

Stephenie Meyer, that author who wrote something a few years back, was one of my favorites to read. No, not her actual published works (at least, not openly.) I am referring to her honest descriptions of writing, publishing, creation, etc.

I can relate to her, since both of us have at least three boys. Did you know she also used music? That she has a playlist posted?

As mentioned at the end of the lame, rambling autobiography (nobody got that far, did they?), I can’t write without music. This, combined with the fact that writing Twilight was a very visual, movie-like experience, prompted me to collect my favorite Twilight songs into a sort of soundtrack for the book. This list is not chiseled in granite; it transforms now and again. But, for the moment, here’s the music I hear in my head while reading the book. (stepheniemeyer.com)

Her website has songs for Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.

We’ll need to talk more about tempting Muses in other fashions. Perhaps you even know a secret incantation.

In the meantime, what are your favorite tracks to play for inspiration?

Kick It up a Notch, AKA How to Improve a Snippet of Writing

Hello, class, and welcome to another session of writing instruction. Today we will be discussing that little extra flavoring that will take your excerpt from blasé to at least palatable.

In layman’s terms, we’re going to start with a frozen pepperoni pizza and make it a meal from Mickey D’s. With practice, we may go as classy as Texas Roadhouse.

We’re going to need a lame sentence. No, not that one I just wrote. Or any of these descriptive ones.
Sheesh! You’re so literal!
How about, “When he saw her face, he knew he was in love.

Woman lights

This is not a terrible sentence. For one thing, it has my first step:

1. Please ensure that your subject matter is interesting.
Something readers want to read is the somewhat-necessary skeleton we need to even start improving that sucker.
Besides our example, you can go with topics of Science Fiction (The alien moved closer to the frightened child), Dystopian (No one had eaten for days since The Great Famine), Horror (She heard the heavy footsteps drawing closer, though she saw no one), or Fantasy (Erglefigman took the Staff of Woidjkin boldly, saying the magic words…).

2. Name your characters. If you’re running with that fantasy idea, name him/her/it with a more simple title (please!).
Does this idea seem daunting? You have the internet; use a name-generator.
Applied to our example, we have, “When Steve saw Elisa, he knew he was in love.
Yes, I used the name generator.

3. Don’t be afraid of other words. You’re a writer: words are the prismatic expression you splash upon a ready canvas.
Unsure what to say? As I have already mentioned in other How-To’s, Thesaurus Man has got your back. Don’t leave him hanging.
Looking up “saw,” “knew,” and “love,” we can spice things up to, “When Steve glanced at Elisa, he realized he was smitten.

4. Show, don’t tell. Yep, you’ve heard this one. Seriously -you read it three seconds ago.
Yes, sometimes you need to tell. A full-length novel where every single action was described instead of named would be torturous.
Instead of “He stubbed his toe, dropping the pizza sauce all over his father’s sleeve,” you might have, “A loud exclamation fell from Todd’s lips as pain spread upwards from his injured toe. His father, meanwhile, felt the stinging heat and saucy redness of pizza sauce spread upwards from his shoulder.” Yes, it’s more interesting -but, only in some ways. Always writing like that would be laborious to the writer and unclear to the reader.
So: show, but don’t be annoying about it. We’ll settle on keeping what we have and adding a sentence of detail. “The softly glowing lights reflected from her cupped hands to glint, temptingly, in her brown eyes. When Steve glanced at Elisa, just then, he realized he was smitten.”

5. Add dialogue. Do your characters have the ability to talk? Then, they should.
Vocalizations are normal; we all express ourselves. They can, and would, be used during action scenes. They need to be sprinkled in naturally around adjectives, reactions, descriptions, etc.
A conversation can also be used to show, not tell and thesaurusize your story.
The softly glowing lights reflected from her cupped hands to glint, temptingly, in her brown eyes.
‘Yes?’ Elisa asked. She’d noted his glance.
‘Um,’ Steve replied. He realized he was smitten.”

Man Phone

6. Inject your flavor of writing.
Everyone has a writing style, a flavor, a way of expression. If you feel you still haven’t stumbled upon this illusive thing, you’re in the same boat as many writers. In fact, I’m certain we’re about cruise ship-sized over here.
I am equally certain each artist has one, and that it will be uncovered the more one practices one’s art. You will lean to using certain patterns, words, jokes, phrasing, or anglophilic references.
Since I am the one writing this, our example has had my flavor this whole time.
Someone else creating a story might go with word patterns, nonsense terms, different ways to interrupt the actions and descriptions, or other things said and observed.

7. Go a tad over the top with characteristics, actions, settings, etc.
I mentioned several of the writing steps we’ve gone over so far in a previous post, including the advice to be specific. Being specific is important, as is writing believably, so the story is relatable. However, the general public also likes extremes of personality and actions.

For example, all of the characters in Harry Potter are distinct. Even minor ones have odd foibles like a weird goat fetish.
The adventures are outlandish, like allowing a 12-year-old to face a full-grown wizard after other deadly dangers. But, people ate it up.

On the flip side is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. If not for the audio version, I would have quickly lost track of which person was penning which letter and why that mattered. I found myself wishing for more differences of personality.

I’ll add a bit more to ours, and then leave it to cool on the windowsill. Hopefully it’ll garner a few stars of a passing critic’s famished review.

The softly glowing lights reflected from her cupped hands to glint, temptingly, in her brown eyes. Night sounds of distant traffic far below joined the background conversations of party guests. Steve felt frozen in sound, feeling, and time.

‘Yes?’ Elisa demanded. She’d noted his glance, and wondered at his expression.

‘Um,’ Steve replied. He realized he was smitten.

Pop! The first forgotten bulb broke against the patio floor near Elisa’s bare right foot. Pop! Clunk!, then a swishing coil of overlapping noises echoed from the walls and stairs nearby as the remaining lights slid from her careless arms.

Unencumbered now, she drew closer, stepping over the discarded strand. Steve saw her dainty feet illuminated from bulbs below as she stepped; noted her slight waver, her impending nearness, and the way a sudden rooftop wind pulled at her black skirt.

Steve knew life would never be normal again, and that he would never regret the inevitable upset. His eyes found hers, even darker now. She walked to stand right in front of him; poor, hypnotized fool.”

Life Cycles

Running Shoes

Sometimes I leave the house, pay the child care, and run round the track at our tiny neighborhood community center. It’s called exercise: this monotonous plodding round and round.

Fourteen laps is one mile.

For inspiration and distraction, I listen to music as I jog the endless circuit. I pick adrenaline as I lag, interest to keep enduring, or awesome bass for confidence.

Still, I need to run. I need to run the same path. I need to run the same path fourteen times. I need to run the same path fourteen times with only myself to think to, and the songs to divert me.

Life is repeated monotony, and I try to switch to a different track whenever the boring frustration drives me crazy! -even that, in a repeated pattern, though.
There is no escaping the circuit, but it needs to be the cog of life and not a mouse exercise wheel.

I always play the same song for my final lap. I get excited to hear it, and know my heart rate increases in anticipation of finally getting to sprint one instead of shuffle-jog thirteen. The introduction plays, and I nearly Whoop! aloud.

Get a song to anticipate, a time to finally reward yourself, a goal to sustain you through the doldrums. Otherwise; you’ll break stride, stop for a drink, excuse yourself to favor a small pain, check your phone, or push too hard in panic and not have the energy for your favorite parts.

And you won’t want to miss your favorite parts.