Monday, January 30, 2012

Is the Internet Making You Lose Focus?

While I'm working on the computer, I usually have about four Internet tabs open: my email, my blog, Facebook, and Pinterest. I'll flit back and forth between them during the day, and invariably a link on one will lead me in a completely different direction and distract me from what I need to be doing.

This is precisely why I do my writing on a laptop that has no Internet connection.

I sometimes wonder if the Internet hasn't made us into an impatient, distracted, and easily amused populace. It reminds me of the scene in Batman Forever (with Val Kilmer) where the Riddler (played by Jim Carrey) invents a machine that connects a person's brain waves to the television in an all-encompassing, zombie-like experience.

On the radio this morning, a deejay said he had a link to the Top Five Time Wasters on his website. He described each one and I thought, really? Have we come to this? A game where you try and get rid of all the green dots, or a website where you make paper animals and join a community to see what other people do with their paper animals? Yeah, that sounds like a huge time waster to me.

Don't get me wrong. I adore the Internet. I've been able to make connections I wouldn't have otherwise, can research to my heart's content, shop, pay my bills, and much more. But I wonder if we're taking it too far. We're so "plugged in" and there are so many different things we can do that our attention span may very well be diminishing by leaps and bounds. I speak from experience. There are times when I'm clicking on things and skimming the article or video or whatever, then a few seconds later, I'm clicking on something else. I've noticed that instead of taking the time to really read something, I'll skim through it to get the meat of it because there's so much more out there that I want to read. It's sad, really.

We may not all have this problem, but I realize that I'm not liking this shortened attention span of mine. It may be time to start limiting Internet usage for this gal and start regaining my mental focus. 

What do you think? Do you feel yourself losing focus when on the Internet?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Are You Reading? January Edition

Is no news good news? Then I suppose that's where I'm at right now - no news of significance to report, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

And apparently my wonderful streak of having nothing to say continues, so for today's post, I'm going with an easy one.

What are you reading right now?

I'm reading Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key. Oh wow. I read half of it in one sitting and am trying to slow down so I can savor it a bit more, but it's hard. When I start reading a good book, I don't want to do anything else. Last night I had to give myself a time limit so I could work on my novel. This book has also been made into a movie, so I'm excited to watch it when I'm finished reading.

And is it just me or do I write better when I'm reading good fiction? Hmm. That might be a good topic to delve into on a future post...

What are you reading right now?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Random Randomness

My posts have been quite sporadic lately. I blame...uh...well, I don't really know what to blame it on other than I have become remarkably unfocused the past few months.

So what better way to regain (or lose?) focus than to regale you with more random thoughts.

Gosh. I am so profound lately...

1) As much as I wanted to like Daniel Craig's Cowboys and Aliens, I confess, I was not impressed. The pacing was off and some scenes needed to be cut altogether. Worse, my delectable Daniel (shhh, don't tell my husband I said that...) did not look like he was comfortable in the role. Give me Craig as Bond any day over Craig as Cowboy.

2) After having temperatures hovering in the 50s and 60s (one day we almost hit 70), this Nebraska winter has been mild, which displeases me. I need the snow and cold and gray skies during this time of year. I know, I go against prevailing conventional wisdom here, but I think I have the opposite of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) because I crave gray, cloudy skies and cold. I know I'm not alone in this because the mighty internet has given me reliable information (!) that there are others like me out there. Thankfully, we got snow the other morning (though it's supposed to be 50 on Sunday!).

3) Spotify. I am loving it. It's an online music program that allows you to create your own playlists from just about any music you can think of. I've got '80s and '90s and current stuff, Big Band playlists, Frank Sinatra, classical, and even the soundtrack to Downton Abbey - all free.

4) Pinterest - yes, I succumbed to this online "pinboard" where you can find goodies galore. There were a few days when I found a ton of stuff from my '80s childhood and took a walk down memory lane. Great fun. If you want to join and need an invite, let me know.

5) Girl talk with my daughter is just plain awesome. She is really loving middle school and of course, she's discovered boys. Now is the time for me to plant those seeds in her mind that say, "Only find a boy who respects you" and "Never succumb to a boy who says, 'if you don't do this, I won't like you anymore.' Instead, leave him in the dust." In this day of super sexualization, of media-drenched images of perfect bodies and perfect relationships, parents have a tough job. I pray the Lord will help my daughter and I keep this close relationship because tough years are ahead: teenage years.

6) Writing...writing...writing. I've been working on my edits and loving it. I'm also excited because my article will be out in America in WWII magazine next month. Hurrah!

And now, to round out this random post, a totally random photo of me as Olga, the Russian spy, sent to kill Inspector Clouseau, in our high school play production of The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Loook at those moves! Look at that perfect stance! Look at that trim figure! *sob* Oh, to be 18 again...


Monday, January 16, 2012

My Hat

I've always loved hats. Not wearing them especially, but looking at them, absolutely.

Since I've started watching Downton Abbey, I've really come to love the Edwardian style and I've been fortunate to find some great modern-day clothes that reflect that style.

A few weekends ago, my daughter and I were shopping at JCPenney. We wandered over to the hat section for fun and I started trying on some hates. My daughter has a way of telling if something looks good on me or not, so I trust her judgement. When I put on a cloche-style hat, she gave me the thumbs up. So, after seeing that it was on sale, I bought it.


My hat
Wearing the hat out in public, however, is another thing altogether.

Not very long ago, women and men wore hats all the time. It was part of your outfit. Our society lost this particular style icon sometime during the cultural revolution of the '60s and 70's, but I am starting to see a slight resurgence (baseball caps don't count). Of course, I doubt we'll get back to those wonderful, flowery hats that used to be so popular during the Edwardian era.

But, I figure since I bought the hat, I might as well wear it. I'm not a brave person when it comes to wearing things that are out of the ordinary, but I am trying to correct that. So the other day, I wore the hat to work. I took it off as soon as I got there, but the point is, I wore it.

Yesterday, we needed to run to the mall again to get my daughter some jeans, and I put on my hat  and wore it the entire time I was at the mall. *gasp* Yes, in public, walking around strangers!

I felt quite proud of myself, and now I'm thinking of getting more hats, though I don't know that I'm brave enough to wear this one...

Do you like to wear hats? Would you like to see a renewed popularity for wearing hats such as we had in the '40s and 50's?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Doing the Work

I'm in the midst of revising my last novel again.  I knew something wasn't quite right with the story, but I couldn't put my finger on it. After a kind agent rejection, now I know. I need to work on my pacing.

This I can do.

But it's not easy.

When you have trouble with a particular aspect of the writing craft, you have two options: you can either throw up your hands and give up, or you can do the work.

And that's exactly what I'm doing.

What's your biggest challenge in writing? Characterization? Plot? Dialogue? How are you trying to overcome it?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I Thought of It First

I have become a huge fan of the series, Downton Abbey. If you haven't heard of this British historical drama yet, where have you been? (Confession: I didn't jump on the bandwagon until about two weeks ago...). It's won several Emmy Awards and has been scheduled for a third season.

Set in England during the 1910s, it tells of a rich aristocratic family - Lord and Lady Grantham and their three daughters - and the lives of their servants. It has love, deception, drama, comedy, passion, war, politics, and scheming...it's simply brilliant.
But! I thought of the historical soap opera idea FIRST. Ok, I was only 12 or so at the time, but I did write to CBS and suggest they set a soap opera during the American Civil War. I thought it would be a huge hit. They politely wrote me back, thanked me for the idea, and I never heard from them again. Ha!

But I have the last laugh! Now, more than 20 years later, voila! Downton Abbey.

Admittedly, though, it's not an American show, but a British one. But really, the British simply do period dramas much better than we Americans. The writing is superb, the acting wonderfully well-done, and the costumes...oh my, the costumes! Absolutely gorgeous. I have a newfound affinity for this style.
The second season is set during World War I and is just starting here in America on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre.

Have you discovered Downton Abbey yet?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year's Surprise

Since my hubby is out of town, it was just my daughter and I for New Year's Eve and we celebrated in style. Junk food, a few rounds of UNO, movies, and playing Littlest Pet Shop did the trick.

And around 2 a.m., I had the most delightful surprise. My cat, Slick, came into my bedroom with a present - a dead mouse. AAAAGHHH! While I am certainly glad he caught it, I didn't appreciate him playing with it in my room, so I had to take it away from him and throw it outside. But this means I have mice in my house and that displeases me intensely. As this is a rental house, however, I am going to have my landlady call the exterminator. Ha! I will let them figure out where the little buggers are getting in.

Happy New Year!

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net