Tammy Unplugged (part two)

There is a skittering in my pulse, its source the mental gnaw that my editor must think me quite odd. She, however, is a professional. If my two-word pitch, “Tammy Unplugged,” for the April blog caused her concern, she said nothing. Beyond my formidable accumulation of verbs and nouns, she knows my heart. And perhaps, after this series, you will as well.

While many writers seek solace in the development of a “persona,” I am of the “runs naked through the sprinkler” set. Few redactions and minimal edits. I am who I am. I have committed myself to paper, and I draw from both the heady ephemera and the toxic abyss of my personality when creating characters. I write “who” I know. If there isn’t some real element of my characters to me, how can I as writer expect my reader to believe any element of my story? This is my method.

Over the next few installments, you will meet my foundational personalities, the bits and pieces of me that make me whole and enable me to draw from them when building characters who will carry a bit of me through the stories I write. I hope you enjoy and are inspired to “unplug” those elemental people running through the sprinkler in your mind.

Week Two: Music, Poetry and... erm….Sex?

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Lyric

Lyric - The poettess Lyric and her twin sister Myth came along in the summer of 1982, and for four years completely controlled the brain. She is green-eyed and a dancer. She is a talented rhymer, and only with much cajoling transitioned to free verse. She is, when given the time, incredibly prolific—once writing eight sets of lyrics in the space of a few hours. Unfortunately, Lyric is both bipolar and OCD when it comes to writing. She is a creature of extremes. A worshipper crying to God in one moment, and then creating baby monsters in my brain the next. She plays trumpet, but prefers guitar and keyboard, if she would have been disciplined enough to learn more than a few chords. Lyric does not accept the existence of Mara or TL in the brain because Mara and TL are in direct competition with her for the creativity dendrites. If given the opportunity, Lyric will self-destruct. She is currently sulking somewhere in my subconscious.

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Myth

Myth - the artist, and Lyric's twin. Myth loves to sketch and paint primarily animals (especially large cats) but if she loves someone, like the kids or a dear friend, she will do portraits. She craves the scent of turpentine and oil paint. She is addicted to paper of all kinds. She also enjoys calligraphy. Myth is a voracious reader and loses herself in the study of world myths and religions. Myth believes that all myths and ancient religions weren't really pagan as much as precursors to the knowledge of God. She is patient, tolerant, gentle, and kind. She is a tactile soul, savoring the feel of a loved one's hair, or the exquisite vibrancy found in the color of someone's eyes. Myth appreciates smooth jazz, worship music, and Enya. She loves to see the artist in others and nurture talent. Myth sees the good in Mara and Grendel's mom but cannot abide by the Banshee (you'll meet them next week). Myth is the only personality who knows how to access peace... She finds it in the smallest moments—a spider web glistening in wet grass, the scent of fresh coffee, a sleeping baby... Myth is a praying soul who often pens her visions and believes dreams are kisses from God. Unfortunately, we don't have time for Myth. She is silent. Still. I wonder if I have lost her...

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Mara Reber

Mara Reber - (pronounced Ree-Ber) actress Mara first appeared in a dream in the early 80's (college years). She is the "beautiful one," sensual, hedonistic. Mara likes silk, satin, wicker, stained glass, crystal—beautiful things and beautiful people. She is dramatic, an actress who craves the center stage, a spotlight of her own. Mara is brown-eyed, with titian red hair, always in ringlets. You will never see her in jeans. She can be haughty, chilly, and vengeful, but is basically relegated to a dark corner since the appearance of stretch marks and the double chin. Mara laments things like warts and wrinkles and fat and gray hair, and since she is the keeper of my libido... sigh. She is the hostile woman scorned in my head, imperious and unsatisfied. She usually detests all of us, with the exception of Bug. She thinks Bo is an uncultured cretan. Mara is a user of people and opportunities. She is the one who looks out through my eyes and calls me a hag. She came to me named, and after a bit of research I found out the word "mara" means "bitter." Mara is a "professed pagan" but often embellishes the truth about herself if she thinks it will make her more charismatic. She struggles with the concept of "Father God" and does not want to let go of her own personal control, but she is not above trying to "bargain" with her Creator for something good. We aren't sure why she has a last name, but the root of Reber is "vinesman."

Peace. 

TL Boehm
Associate Editor

 

Tammy Unplugged (part one)

There is a skittering in my pulse, its source the mental gnaw that my editor must think me quite odd. She, however, is a professional. If my two-word pitch, “Tammy Unplugged,” for the April blog caused her concern, she said nothing. Beyond my formidable accumulation of verbs and nouns, she knows my heart. And perhaps, after this series, you will as well.

While many writers seek solace in the development of a “persona,” I am of the “runs naked through the sprinkler” set. Few redactions and minimal edits. I am who I am. I have committed myself to paper, and I draw from both the heady ephemera and the toxic abyss of my personality when creating characters. I write “who” I know. If there isn’t some real element of my characters to me, how can I as writer expect my reader to believe any element of my story? This is my method.

Over the next few installments, you will meet my foundational personalities, the bits and pieces of me that make me whole and enable me to draw from them when building characters who will carry a bit of me through the stories I write. I hope you enjoy and are inspired to “unplug” those elemental people running through the sprinkler in your mind.

Week one: Girls and Boys

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Bug

Bug is eleven years old and loves horses and fairies and is the keeper of all childhood memories. She sings out loud and splashes through puddles. She loves to read anything but her favorite is still the Wizard of Oz series. Sometimes she pretends she is Polychrome, the rainbow's daughter. She is playful, friendly, and smart. She loves her dog and her Barbies (her Barbies have superpowers of course—they can fly and communicate with animals). Bug talks too much but she has always been a "good" girl. She adores her daddy and her best friend Evonne. She never asks for control; she just wants to be heard, loved, and accepted. Bug believes in the happy ending. She lives in my heart, but lately she spends her time curled up, crying. I've become impatient and cruel with my inner child, and she suffers for it. Bug has always been with me, even though I tell people I left her in Jacksonville in 1979. Bug is terrified of death, so much so that she has to sing about butterflies to get to sleep. She is afraid she might die in her sleep. Sometimes she feels God's hand on her back so she stays very still so God won't leave her. She believes in God, but she doesn't think she's been good enough to go to Heaven, and I can't seem to convince her otherwise. She gives unconditional love—but she is incapable, I think of receiving it. Mom never loved us. And with Bug, I can't bring us past that reality.

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Bohemian

**Bohemian - male. Bohemian has been around since fourth or fifth grade. Despite the name, Bohemian is the epitome of logic. For him, life is black and white and we would all do better if we got over ourselves and worked as one unit. He is the one who peers into the skull of the deer to show the boys how the wasps used the nasal cavity to make a paper nest. The concept of death and decay do not faze him. Bo would've made a great coroner. Since he's male, he is comfortable with things like body hair, farting in public, belching letters of the alphabet, and eating just about anything with his fingers. Grossing Bo out is next to impossible. Bo sings tenor and is proud of it. He also plays bagpipes and harmonica. Bo appreciates physicality and strength. He'd like to be a bodybuilder, but some of the other personalities are less agreeable to sweating and diets. Bo can stop a charging pit bull with the word NO. Bo loves diesel, leather, the sound of heavy machinery and was highly torqued when we developed "breasts." Once we got the heterosexual thing hammered out (sorry big guy; we are a girl. Always have been, always will be, only small girlie crushes on Cheryl Burke and Angelina Jolie allowed), we accepted Bo as he is quite useful in dealing with all the men we work with, picking up vinigaroons, and killing centipedes. Bo is probably why we birthed boys. Bohemian likes to use an English accent when he speaks. I only let Bo out when I'm alone and playing INXS or Billy Idol CD's. Because he's a guy, he's never allowed control of the brain. Bo has a thing for 80's big hair rock music and power rock bands like Journey, Kansas, Boston. He can totally relate to Jesus sitting around the campfire trading jokes with the disciples. Come on, thirteen guys traveling together on foot? Seriously. Bohemian is actually pretty cool, if only he were female—why is he male? I have no idea... he just is.

Next week, we'll unplug some more. 

Peace. 

TL Boehm
Associate Editor

Brain Break (final)

Write if you must

Over the past few weeks, we’ve explored ways to disconnect from that part of our primary identity of writer in order to allow our minds to rest and recharge, which in turn feeds our creativity as writers. But some of you are stubborn and writing is so ingrained you cannot disconnect. Your day job is perpetual research, your family is fodder for plot and character, and your every waking moment is spent in writing, researching the craft of writing, or seeking publication for that which is already written. You could no more disconnect from your writing than you could turn yourself inside out.

Fine. I offer you this:

Write if you must – but do it outside your genre.

While I myself consider myself something of a coyote, an opportunist as a writer, hesitating to settle on one genre or even two and writing poetry, short stories, blogs, and fiction whenever and wherever I am so inclined, I usually encourage writers to, and experience that, most writers are focusing their craft in one type of writing and genre. Thus, if you are a romantic poet or a horror novelist and your craft has become wearisome, consider doing a guest blog on a topic you love, or some satirical flash fiction. If you pen gritty espionage – try penning a lullaby. If science fantasy is your vehicle – consider compiling some family vignettes.

If you do this, a couple of things will surely happen:

Your standard genre and type of writing will benefit. Stepping out of your comfort zone to experience something different will invigorate your own writing and give you creative fuel to power through stilted storylines and brain-weary writing.

You may fall in love, or you will at least gain an appreciation for other writing styles, authors, and genres. Changing up your focus for a moment can open up a world of writers, and writing to you, and it may also expose you to more readers in turn.

As with anything else that we do, the more rounded we are, the better our results. While sticking within one or two genres and styles won’t damage your writing ability, taking a break from your chapbook of poetic odes to toads to pound out a scathing opp ed about whether toilet paper should be on the roll over or under (Over. Always over. And if you leave only a single sheet, you’re a monster) gives your poetic amphibious aria machine a well-needed break (because seriously? Frog poems?) and you may find your platform is not lily pads but Charmin. Just don’t go to work tomorrow with TP on your heel. You’ll get teased, and my senior editor doesn’t condone any blog advice that puts our readers in a situation where they will be belittled.

Peace!

TL Boehm
Associate Editor

Brain Break (part four)

New Experiences

By nature, I’m an introvert. Unfortunately, I spend most of my LIFE catering to humans who care little for my personal space or desire for solitude. In the rare moments when I have a spare moment all I want to do is dive under a piece of furniture and curl into as small a ball as my middle aged, well fed flesh will accommodate. Why then would I ever equate a new thing as respite to my overtaxed brain? Because brains are complicated, that’s why.

Remember when you were a kid and you saw your buddy jump off a swing in mid-air and stick the landing? Remember that way-cool fluttery feeling in your stomach when you tried the leap too? Even when you biffed it majorly and ate a face-full of dirt - wow! You probably slept well as a kid, didn’t you? 

You see, the grind of the same old same old, while predictable, can be crushing to your creative soul and wearisome to your brain. How do we as writers birth a new story or even cut a new facet on a familiar surface when we have consigned ourselves to the same pace on the hamster wheel? Eventfully all we will experience is a creaking spin and desperation. So jump off the wheel once in a while.

Maybe trying fugu or scaling Everest isn’t for you, at least yet, and I’m not advocating voting outside your political party, but hey-have you tasted the new nacho fries at Taco Bell? Perhaps there is a “scenic route” home from work you could drive on a Friday. A different creamer in your coffee...start small. You’ll be jumping off that swing and sticking that landing in no time. And the new experiences will invigorate your creativity, which in turn will give you peace and allow you to rest. 

You can see how much I had to say about this one.

Peace

TL Boehm
Associate Editor

Brain Break (part three)

Family and Friend Time

What a week I’ve had. I have a Nascar worthy commute through snow, fog, ice, and when it is sunny I’m eastbound in the AM and west bound in the PM. I share an office using a borrowed laptop and sit at a folding table. I come home to our lady of perpetual conversation oh my COWS the last thing I need is socializing with la familia or my buddies. Don’t they understand? If they are friends or family they’d get me and give me the space I need to create….YEAH, RIGHT.

Actually, time spent with family and friends can definitely give your inner author a much-needed break, as long as you adhere to a few parameters. Yes, I’m going to share with you a few parameters.

“Fish are friends, not food.” (obscure movie quote: check)

Your family and friends are not fodder for your novel. Do not multitask by spending “quality” time with friends and family only to catalog the way your younger child slurps his pasta or commit to memory the irritation factor found in that noise gramma makes reminiscent of a biddy hen while she’s trying to add to the conversation that doesn’t concern her. Stop doing that. Unless you’re writing your memoir, and even then, use discretion – family is family and some things don’t belong in the public record. Yes, we write what we know, but people watching in the mall or the bus stop or anywhere else is safer than putting Uncle Otto in your novel.

Okay, maybe one or two quirks or tics could be irresistible, but family time should be sanctuary – not research. If you must, and I’ve musted myself, use an amalgamation rather than a verbatim representation of Uncle Otto. Refrain however from giving Aunt Grunhilde cause to strike you from her will due to your slanderous and insensitive treatment of her dear husband who helped raise yer fadder from an eck. It’s not cute to verbally maul your relations – in fact, it’s inappropriate and identifies you as a noob. Quality time is that time wherein you fully engage in your familial role as parent/child etc. Play with your grand baby. Discuss the relevancy of Pokemon Go with your son. Chat over coffee with your spouse. Just enjoy their presence. Same goes for your friends. Make a conscious effort if you need to, to spend time just listening to your friends without discussing the complexities of your novel or the frustration you feel over your editor scrapping your prologue. You are a writer, but you’re other things too. Don’t worry. Your brain will appreciate the break from writer mode.

Avoid toxic types. So I’m an introvert, and I’d love to ditch the above advice and sequester myself in the basement with the cats and write full throttle. Unfortunately, eventually my creative well would dry and I’d churn out garbage because I’m not a self-contained entity. Humans need other humans. Of course, if you are being intentional about your connections as I am – toxic types raise hell with your creativity. If you can’t banish them from your life altogether – take them in the smallest dose possible so that they don’t permeate your creativity like the little biddy hens they are. (see?)

It may be that you have a day job stuffed to the gills with toxic types. Perhaps you know in your heart of hearts certain relatives were in fact the original inspirations for Mommy Dearest and Faye Dunaway deserves canonization in comparison. Of course your brain will seize if you spend time with these types. We can’t choose family and we have little control over coworkers, but time spent with friends is both relaxing and refreshing to the creative mind. Just be sure that you are socializing to be social and not to do writer things like develop a fan base. Fans are not friends. Getting your ego fed is not the same as nurturing your inner muse. Fans are great and networking is necessary – but so is coffee with a friend and chatting about nothing, or going to the mall together or whatever it is you enjoy that you aren’t going to come back to your bat cave and build into your next protagonist.

If you’re a social butterfly you may need to flit from flower to flower, but if you’re like most writers I know personally, the well-planned social sojourn requires only one or two close friends and or family who aren’t altogether crazier than you to give you the brain break you need. So put down your tablet, comb your hair, and get out there and enjoy the simple time spent with others of your species. Your creative brain will thank you.

Peace.

TL Boehm
Associate Editor