Help! My Superior Temporal Gyrus Is On The Fritz!

As much as I hate to admit it, I think it’s fair to say I’ve been hit with a case of writer’s block. Seeing how much I’ve been posting here, you would think I am full of baloney, or tell me, “It’s all in you’re head!” Of the former, I assure you, the only thing I am currently full of, is the leftover turkey & fixin’s we discussed yesterday, in The Aftermath. Of the latter, I would have to agree. Because let’s face it… that’s where writer’s block is; in the head.

The term, “Writer’s Block” is defined as: “The condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.”

See what I mean? It’s all in my head. Or… it isn’t. Whichever you prefer. Frankly, I believe it – by the way we are referring to the story-line for the fantasy fiction novel I’m currently writing is in my head, but stuck somewhere between my Parietal Lobe and my Cerebellum. See figures A & B below.

It’s all here, in this article: Inside your brain: When you get a creative idea , but the point is, I can’t seem to get what I have in my head to flow down my neck, through my arms and out my fingertips to the typewriter, and become the paper version of the world and characters I’ve got dancing the tango in my Occipital Lobe. At least… I think that’s where they are…

So how to break this block of mine? I’m doing as much reading  as I can, researching for the book, and taking random notes as ideas pop in fleetingly and then pop back out again. My hope… and I do sincerely hope… is that I’ll somehow shake things loose enough to where my imaginary friends will settle down, and want to talk to me again.

Between you and me, I think they’re having trouble getting out of holiday mode, and just want to continue the party, by consuming mass quantities of sugary foods. However, I’m on to the little devils, and – now that the pecan pie is gone, and the homemade caramels have taken up residence with my grown kids – we are going to get back into work mode, and force them to straighten up and fly right, gosh darn it!

I take comfort in the words of Joseph Heller, who said, “Every writer I know has trouble writing.” Pretty nice to know the man who invented such works as; Catch-22 (1961 satirical novel), and Sex and the Single Girl (1964 Movie), also had bouts of the frustrating, but fortunately non-lethal condition known to pretty much anyone who’s ever tried to write so much as an assigned essay or term paper.

My new favorite writing story is one I read in “On Writing a Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King

“A friend came to visit (author) James Joyce one day, and found the great man sprawled across his writing desk in a posture of utter despair.‘James, what’s wrong?’ the friend asked. ‘Is it the work?’
Joyce indicated assent without even raising his head to look at his friend. Of course it was the work; isn’t it always?
How many words did you get today?’ the friend pursued.
Joyce (still in despair, still sprawled facedown on his desk): ‘Seven.’
‘Seven? But James… that’s good, at least for you.’
‘Yes,’ Joyce said, finally looking up. ‘I suppose it is… but I don’t know what order they go in!’

So there’s hope. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to attempt to coax my little characters out of their hiding places in the jumbled up mess that is my sugar-drunk brain.

Many Blessings!

C.A. Bennett – Writer

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The Aftermath

peanuts-thanksgivingWhen I embarked on this magical journal we affectionately refer to as “Thanksgiving” over a month ago, (yes that’s correct, my family actually began the planning process for a ritual gathering, and feast complete with the sacrificial poultry in early October, because they – not me, this time – are nuts) I had no clue that I would spend the day after, aka Black Friday, in a food-induced coma that would last nearly twenty-four hours. Seriously, I have been sitting in the same chair, looking at the same computer, for the past twelve hours, doing absolutely nothing whatsoever. I can’t even remember what I’ve been looking at, or reading, with the exception of this hilarious video of How Kids React to Typewriters.

I swear, I’m not making this up! I actually ate fairly sparingly yesterday compared to years past, but what I did eat, mainly consisted of sugar, or bread, or – God help me – a deadly combination of both in the form of that all-time holiday staple – Monkey Bread. Add the homemade caramel candies I’d prepared the night before, and the pecan pie my eldest son brought, and by 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, I had a case of sugar overload so bad, I thought I was going to die. Like – literally – go to the hospital with a case of instant diabetes that kills you on the spot, happy-thanksgiving-thank-you-very-much – D.I.E.

I had the shakes

I was totally exhausted and weak all over

I had a headache

I was dying of thirst

Then it hit me – the past couple months, I’ve been attempting to avoid sugar as much as possible, then all at once, completely bombarded my system with the stuff by direct consumption and topped it off by carb-loading, which of course, turns straight to sugar in your body. I also had too much coffee and a cup of tea, not nearly enough water and zero protein. Oh good. Caffeine + the Sugar Mother-load, dehydration and nothing to help metabolize this toxic combination. Awesome idea, Crystal. Good job!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we attack obviously unhealthy concoctions with reckless abandon at least twice a year – Thanksgiving and Christmas in my case – all in the name of holiday cheer? I have a two part theory;

1. Commercialism.

2. Tradition –  which in many cases stems from commercialism.

All that aside, I had a very nice time with my family, with the exception of the gratuitous – and also traditional – thanksgiving argument between my mother and I on our differing cooking techniques, which unfortunately took place in the middle of her front yard this year. I’m not entirely certain we were overheard by any of her neighbors, and it didn’t come to blows, so I suppose it’s was fairly well ended, when I conceded the match in favor of not ruining it for the rest of the family, which consisted of all five of my grown kids, my husband, and a variety of significant others. Any other day? “Look out, mom, them’s fightin’ words!”

Here’s the kicker… we have exactly thirty days till we do it all over again.

Happy Post-Thanksgiving Food Coma Day, folks! Many Blessings to all, and to all a good bite!

C.A.Bennett -Writer

On Being Thankful – A Short Post

history_thanksgiving-aToday, being Thanksgiving, I wanted to say I am so thankful to God for always taking such good care of me and my family. If y’all only know the things that have happened this year, and how the Lord has brought us through it, you’d never doubt Him and His mercy!

I’m so thankful for each and every family member and friend who has stuck by me through every version of myself that even I didn’t know existed, good and bad! If there’s one thing the past eleven months have done, it’s to reinvent who I am and how I respond to hardship!

I’m also thankful for the time I’ve had to devote to writing my book. It’s been very productive, and I am looking forward to seeing it through to what I have faith will be a successful career of many years and many more novels! I do so love to write, after all!

Happy Thanksgiving & Many Blessings to all!

When Is A Bad Day, A Good Day?

You’ve heard that expression, “Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug”, right? Well today I feel like the bug. Let me explain… the idiom implies that you are either the bug that becomes the mess, or your the object that ends up with the mess splattered all over it. Either way… you’re a mess.

My reason for being the bug? Well… I was asked to go somewhere to help someone I love in a situation they couldn’t get anyone else to help them with. It was a seemingly simple thing, really… I had to drive out to give one of my grown sons a ride to a work related seminar/training. Next thing I know, we’re all in the car, Rob and I are on each others last nerve, and we aren’t even halfway there yet. Not a good start, but okay, fine. That’s just marriage sometimes.

After getting to the house, we found we had a lot more time than we originally thought, so we visited with all the grown kids. They share a house and some had the day off, while some just weren’t scheduled till later. Pretty cool. After we dropped off the kid at the place with the thing, Rob and I ended up exploring an old military town, and got to see some cool navy stuff. We even got kicked off a college campus for taking pictures of the buildings, I kid you not! Kinda funny, right? So we have a few laughs, and take a few pictures. We even have some awesome sourdough bread, creamy brie-like cheese the actual name of which I can’t recall, (but was much less expensive) and the most delectable strawberry pastry ever. Good day.

Except… on the way home, we argue, then make up, then argue some more. Why? I dunno. Stupid crap, for sure. We’ve been married 28 years and have spend almost 24/7 with each other for the past 7.5 months that I’ve been recovering from a work injury. We could probably use a little “me” time apart a few hours a week, but finances at the moment don’t exactly support that theory, but we can handle it. The point is, I felt like a mess.

We get home, and next thing I know, people are telling us how our dog just barked aaaall day, and never stopped. Well that was one person’s description, anyway… Another said it was more like 20 – 30 minutes on, a few minutes off, and so on. Either way, the dog is hoarse and coughs when she barks, so I guess they must be telling the truth, or why else would she be? It’s just odd, because she doesn’t usually bark much, except when she comes in contact with people who have been known to be somewhat aggressive with her, aka the people who told us she was barking. I dunno… I’m just fed up with the drama that goes on in this armpit of a town in which we live, and I wish to no end that I could afford to move out and away forever.

What was good: I got to visit with my oldest three boys, and one of the girlfriends, who I am very fond of. I got to talk to my other son, who lives a bit farther away, and is at college when he called one of his older brothers. First time in about three weeks I’ve actually heard his voice, because he’s been so darn busy with college, work, the army, his girlfriend, and life in general, and my youngest son got to hang out with his brothers for a good while. Rob and I did have some fun, and saw some neat things. We saw my mother, I got out of the house for a change, and a friend brought us a bag of persimmons after we got home.

So I guess the moral of the story is not actually windshield vs. bug, but rather – you can choose to see a good day as a bad day because some negative things happened, or you can chose to focus on the good, and let the bad go.

The choice was totally mine to decide how I want to look at what kind of day I had. When I first sat down to write this, I felt fairly defeated and thought I’d had a bad day. After examining it and writing it all out, I rather think I had a pretty good day. I got to spend time with the people I love and even though one son couldn’t be there, he was there in my heart and for a little while… in my ear thanks to technology.

The great part? Day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and we will all be together. All the people I love in one place. We will talk. We will laugh. We will eat too much food, and we will hug. We will say, “I love you.” Most of all… we will never forget the time we have together. I’m so thankful for the gifts God has given me, and no matter how bad any day may seem, there is always something to be thankful for – always.

1st Thessalonians 5: 18 says,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Praise the Lord, and Amen.

Roadblocks & An Open Letter To Stephen King 

I gotta tell you, I am having a devil of a time with my book, and I don’t really know why. Okay, that’s not 100% true, I do have a couple theories.

#1. I stopped writing for a couple days to read “On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft” – by Stephen King. You may recall that I posted about it here at Who Are You, Anyway?! a few days ago, and promptly began to change everything I thought I knew about writing. After all, the man is a master in the field of literature!

#2. I changed the location of my desk, which is in a great location compared to before, however… it’s taken a few days to get used to the new location, and get comfortable again. I have Mr. King to thank for that as well, because it was, in fact, his idea to move the desk. I swear I am not crazy – look it up!

#3. I have been sick with bronchitis and a sinus infection, and very tired. Too tired even, to think properly, much less write anything good, as I found out while reviewing material today. Good lord, what was I thinking?!

#4. I have a retired husband who is in constant and apparently dire need of my unfailing attention.

#5. I have an addiction problem. I admit it; I’m totally addicted to Facebook. I can’t seem to stop! I’ll be in the middle of doing something, and just stop everything to check my Facebook app! Next thing I know, I’m watching videos of cute puppies wearing baby onesies while napping on a bed, and kitties hurling their fuzzy bodies into a variety of boxes and other containers never built to hold fuzzy kitties. Or – God help me – watching short videos of rapidly prepared, delicious-but-lethal-looking recipes. I actually had to leave my cell phone in another room for a few hours today, so I could focus on writing and abstain from social media.

So you see my predicament? So do I, and I know just what I need to do to correct it! I have to apologize to Stephen King. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Here’s the thing – in my previous post, I may have hinted that it didn’t matter what advice Mr. King or Hemingway, or other famous authors had to say about how I write, because I’m me and they’re them, and so on, and so forth.

While I still hold that to be true, and would say it again, I absolutely MUST note that Messrs. King and Hemingway are indeed literary forces to be reckoned with, and in no way would I dream of detracting from their expertise, no would I shun or otherwise “poo-poo” their advice on the craft of writing!

So what do you say, Mr. Stephen King? Can I have my clarity, focus, and imagination back now? Please? If you’re keeping it locked up in some little box on your desk in the corner, I’d surely appreciate it if you’d unlock and turn them loose. That is… if it’s not to much trouble? I have a book in progress, after all, and it’s pretty good, if I say so myself…

Your friend in literature,

C.A. Bennett – Writer

Who Are You, Anyway?!

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We’ve all been there. We’ve all asked ourselves that eternal set of questions:

“Who am I?”

“What am I doing with my life?”

“What is my purpose?”

“Why am I here?”

For me, these past seven months have been a journey of redefining myself as a result of strictly imposed restrictions on what I used to believe I was. I was, a Behavior Specialist who was going to college to become a teacher. I was, but I’m not anymore.

Two things have been a constant in my life no matter what I thought I wanted to be, or what I became because of doors that opened – if only temporarily – and then closed again.

My faith in God

My love of writing

From the earliest part of my life that I’m able to remember, I have prayed daily, and I have been a writer. I can recall my five year old self – white ruffled baby-doll pajamas with little pink flowers that were all the rage for every little girl in the very early 1970’s, fuzzy pink slippers, kneeling at the side of my bed, to say my nightly prayers;

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.

If I should die, before I wake,

I pray the Lord, my soul to take.

I said that prayer every single night without fail, for I don’t know how many years. When I grew up and became an “official born-again Christian” – as some would say – I stopped one evening to question what that prayer really meant. It was a simple request of God:

Lord, if I live through the night, let me keep my soul. If I die, take it and protect it for me

Simple. Basic. Done.

Nowadays, my nightly prayers are much more complicated that that. I regularly thank the Lord for His love, blessings and mercy. I regularly pray for forgiveness; not just for me, but for my husband, and each of my now adult children, and even their significant others, because hey… when you’re in my family, you’re really in my family, whether or not we agree on politics or God. I pray for protection, guidance, healing, and then throw in whatever current issues I have for myself, and for any family members I’m concerned about. I ask the Lord to bless everyone who has blessed me and my family in any way, and I ask Him to allow us to be a blessing to Him, to each other, and others.

Very different set of prayers from childhood.

The other constant, is that no matter whatever else I thought I was or wanted to be, I have always been a writer. Always. I remember before I could actually read or write, I would take crayon to paper, make those little scribbly writing lines that every small child thinks is real writing just like mommy & daddy make on their paper, and I would “read” my scribble stories to my stuffed animals and dolls as they sat lined up against the wall on my bed, and listened astutely to my wonderful adventures.

As I grew older, and learned to read and write, I did both with a passion that even J.K. Rowling would be proud of! I couldn’t get enough of books! I read, and read. The most exciting time in my childhood was when the Bookmobile would come to my neighborhood. Lord, have mercy, but I would absolutely be beside myself with joy over the Bookmobile! My mother and I don’t have the greatest relationship on the planet, but one thing I will say is that she instilled a love of reading in me, and has always encouraged me to write. I have no idea why, because that’s really the only encouraging area she played in my life, but I’m thankful for it, and have told her as much. But I digress…

These days, I’ve been working on writing my books, and am still going to college, but have changed my major from History to Religious Studies – the two intertwine so closely that I’m actually ahead of the game for the change – because one thing that has become evident in recent months, is that the Lord wants me to go in the church direction, and has graciously allowed me the time to write as I’ve always wanted to. Win-win situation.

During the process of writing, I have been reading about other writers and the method to this madness of becoming a successful and published author. I’ve learned quite a lot from J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Earnest Hemingway, Henry David Thoreau, Elmore Leonard, Saul Bellow, and a host of other famous authors, but the single most important thing I have discovered on my own is this:

None of what they say actually has anything to do with how I write.

Hear me out –  I am completely a fan of several of the aforementioned authors and have nothing but respect for them and for their process of making great literature. They are the writers I look up to and I aspire to attain that level of success – sooner rather than later, God willing – but they are not me and I am not them. What one says to always do, another says to never do. One will tell you to always outline and have your plot and ending ready before you ever put pen to paper, while another will tell you to sit down and just start writing – plot be damned – it’ll work itself out in the rewriting and editing phase. One will say, “treat it like a regular job where you’re on the clock from 9 to 5“, while another will tell you to, “write anywhere, anytime, as long as you WRITE!”- I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you get the idea – and you know what? They’re all right! And they’re all wrong! Why? Because that’s what works for them! But it may not work for me. It may or may not work for you!

We are all writers, but we are all different.

“So what’s the point?”

The point is – you are an individual who was made to be something special, and it’s not up to any other human being to tell you who or what to be or how to be it. Sometimes in life, the road we think we were meant to travel suddenly forks, and the way you were going, now has an enormous roadblock. You will find yourself faced with having to go an entirely different direction than you the one you thought you were supposed to go, and it can be terrifying! Pray. Ask the Lord for guidance and direction. Ask Him what He created you to be, and then ask Him to help you to become the best version of that person that you can be!

“And if I don’t believe in God?” you ask?

Well then just be the best you that you can possibly be, make the best decisions you can, and don’t do harm to anyone. In the meantime, I’ll pray that you find God, because He already knows you, whether or not you know Him.

Ephesians 2:10

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

NOW GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING GOOD WITH YOURSELF!

Caution: Writer At Work!

When your “office” is in your dining room, the people you live with tend to forget you’re “at work.” For the writer, it can be all too easy to get up and leave the “office” to wander the house, check out the fridge for the one-hundredth time, and become otherwise involved in other activities instead of staying put and making progress.

My solution – which admittedly needs refinement, was to put up a curtain and lay down some rules.

#1. When the curtain is closed, the writer is at work. Pretend she is not there.

#2. No engaging the writer in conversation when the curtain is closed, unless there’s a legitimate emergency.

#3. When the curtain is closed, the writer will refrain from meandering about, thereby resulting in avoidance of work, and inhibiting the progress of the aforementioned book.

#4. The writer controls the curtain.

I’m seriously considering purchasing an accordion door and mini blinds for the opening next to my desk, and in the kitchen island area. The only drawback I can see is that I may, in fact, become a recluse.