Tag Archives: Mairead Walpole

It’s that magical time of year again, and no – I don’t mean Christmas

Those that know me well also know one of my pet peeves is that Thanksgiving has become little more than a speed bump on the way to Christmas.

I’ve written in the past about my love of the Thanksgiving holiday so I’ll spare you the sound of me on my soapbox.  This time, I’ll tell you how I am celebrating Thanksgiving.

In October, a friend told me that she was going to post a comment every day for the month of November on Facebook about what she was thankful for.  I thought it was a great way to protest the dismissal of Thanksgiving and to celebrate the holiday all month long so I decided to join in.  I missed the first day but quickly got on track with a double posting for Day 2 of both Day 1 and Day 2.  I’m up to Day 22 and haven’t missed a day, yet.  There have been some days where I had to decide between more than one thing to write about and other days where the thing I was thankful for may have seemed a bit of a stretch.  Regardless of what anyone reading my daily posts might think of them, the one thing that has come out of this exercise is my realization of how blessed I really am.  Each day as I reflect on the things that I am thankful for, I find that I am less interested in the things that I don’t have or didn’t achieve.

In addition to the daily post on Facebook, my kids and I have started talking about Thanksgiving on a much deeper level than this event that happened in Massachusetts, or Virginia.  (Sorry, I am a Virginian and my father’s side of the family can trace roots back to the both the Mayflower AND the founding of Virginia – so I have to get my dig in.)

The message that I am trying to drive home to my boys is to be thankful for the people and the things in your life.  To treasure them and take care of them and to always be grateful for what you have and what is given to you.  My husband tends to bring it back to giving thanks to God for all that we have, and while I have no objection to that viewpoint, I want to bring the discussion with the kids to a level that applies to everyone -Christian, non-Christian, and Atheists.  At its basic level – the concept of gratitude seems to be missing in our society and if I impart little else to these boys, this is one concept I really want them to understand.

I’ve heard the objections to Thanksgiving as a national holiday and I can respect where people are coming from with their objections, but I believe that it’s not too much to ask that we as a country have one day where we pause and take a hard look around us to find at least one thing that we are thankful for and acknowledge it.  It stinks that the next day is all about insane consumerism, but that is a topic for another blog.

Happy Thanksgiving and I hope that each of you has 30 days worth of things to be thankful for!

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

7 Comments

Filed under Mairead Wapole

Where do you find inspiration?

I get this question a lot.  About a nano-second after someone digests the fact that I write, the inevitable question will be about where I get my inspiration.  On hearing my response, I always get the sense that I have let them down somehow.  As though they were expecting some ritual – “I only write on days that end in a Y while drinking Chai Tea, and listening to Mahler” or some logical routine, “I set aside 25 minutes each morning before I get my kids up and write whatever comes to mind” or that I would identify the “get your inspiration shop” just down the street.

Inspiration – for me at least – is not something I can reliably find or count on.  It just is.  (Or in the case of writer’s block, is not.)  I suppose I could make up something that sounds thought provoking and “autho-rish” or I could come up with something suitably weird so that they’d walk off satisfied, but I figure they honestly want to know, so I honestly answer.  Sometimes inspiration comes from the usual places – dreams, events in my life, local or global events that are in the news, and people I meet – but sometimes inspiration is sparked by a random thought or snippet of a song, a smell, a taste, or something I see.  Sometimes I have no freaking clue where the idea came from.  It just pops into my head and I can’t link it to a single thing that I am aware of.

My children inspire me not only in the ways that one’s children tend to inspire parents, but also with story ideas.  My youngest child in particular will be a rich source of inspiration should I decide to start writing post-apocalyptic zombie tales or go down a totally Lovecraftian path in horror fiction.  Nate is 7 and has an extremely active imagination; I think I have let him watch way too many SciFi, Discovery, and H2 shows.   My oldest is 10 going on 30 and he tends to ask hard questions around why things happen the way they do.  His questions have inspired me to jot down ideas for stories in a couple of different genres.  His latest series of questions and answers have been around dogs.  We recently acquired a puppy and subsequently lost our dog of 15 years within a fairly short span of time.  Oliver made some observations about the dogs’ interactions that sparked an interesting discussion around dog’s memories and how they perceive the world.  When we got the puppy, it seemed as though our older dog was “mentoring” her in how to behave with the family – almost a passing on of the care of the boys from the elder to the younger.  Once Khaki was integrated into the family, it seemed Lui’Ka was ready to move on.  “She was staying alive for us, wasn’t she?” he asked one night after she passed away.  He has expressed an interest in writing a story with me told from a dog’s perspective, which I think could be fun.

My job can inspire me.  One of the first novels I wrote (yet to be published due to needing a fair amount of re-writes) was based off of a “what if” scenario with a case I was working on.  It’s a legal thriller told from the point of view of the paralegal, rather than the attorney or law student.  I have another “yet to see the light of day” novel based loosely on some events from a prior employer that deals with the “what if” the company was really doing what people thought they were doing.  In my current job, I can’t say much inspires my writing other than providing material for use in developing characters.  I work with some interesting people, psychologically speaking, and one or two of them may just wind up in my current WIP.

I recently got an app for my smartphone that lets me write notes with a stylus or my finger when I am on the go.  Prior to that, I carried around a small notebook and pen but that wasn’t as efficient as it sounds.  You tend to run out of ink or paper at a critical moment, or worse, one of the kids drops some god-awful sticky thing in your bag and bye-bye notes.  I love my handwrite notes app.  Sitting in traffic and something sparks a thought; I just scribble notes on my phone to be expanded out when I have time.  I can blend my grocery list with my novel notes and sort them later.  Since my phone is with me almost 24/7 I can capture notes easily and don’t worry about carting around anymore additional stuff in my purse.  Heck, my purse is an inspiration in itself.  On any given day, you never know what might be in there.  Need some duct tape? A clean sock? Wax? A dog bone? I’ve probably got you covered.

The latest thing to spark my imagination was coming upon a sign at a bookstore that said, “Words to Inspire.”  Unfortunately, it was on a table with nothing around the sign.  I found it ironically funny at the time but later it took root in my thoughts and it has inspired the beginning of what for the moment feels like a short story.

 

2013-09-199519_25_59_

So what inspires me?  In short, everything.

 

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

3 Comments

Filed under Mairead Wapole, writing

When business and creative writing collide: the annual performance appraisal self-assessment

It’s summer.  That once magical time of year that, as an adult, I dread.  I’m not talking about appearing in public in a swim suit, although that does have its own share of horrors. I’m talking about trying to figure out how to sum up a year’s worth of work using corporate-speak phrasing and tying my work to homogenized character traits that some HR person believes to represent our company’s model employee.  In short, it’s time to do the annual performance appraisal self-assessment.

I’ve been in the professional workforce for over twenty years now, which means I’ve written more than twenty of these things.  One would think that by now I write a solid self appraisal in my sleep.  Perhaps if I could stuff that side of me that hates bureaucracy in a box and bury it until after review time I would be able to just write the blasted thing and move on.  Instead I seem to find humor in the whole process and fight the urge to give my pervers humor a chance to stretch.

In my young and somewhat irreverent past, I had been known to have fun with them.  Early on in my career I worked for a large law firm on the east coast as a paralegal – or rather as what is now known as a litigation project manager.  In this job, we had to do these rather long thoughtful reflections on how we viewed our career, where we saw ourselves in five years, and whether we felt the firm was using us to our full potential.  In the mistaken belief that no one really read these self assessments – since no one had ever discussed the contents of my assessment other than to tell me what a great asset I was to the firm, I decided to see if anyone was paying attention.  In the middle a long paragraph around where I saw myself in five years, I wrote a sentence that stated that I felt the whole exercise was a complete waste of my time since no one ever discussed what I had written in prior reviews.  When the performance review came up, it was more of the same “great job…valuable asset” discussion.  At the conclusion of my review, as I was walking to the door, the managing partner said, “Oh, and by the way – I do read the self assessments. Every. Single. Word. I predict that with the right boss you will go far, or more likely, your warped sense of humor will get you in trouble one day.”  So, I have learned to be careful of what I write in self appraisals.

Getting started on the assessment isn’t all that different from working through writers block.  I stare at the blank screen until I realize that I have to start somewhere so I just write.  Most of the time, my first pass at an assessment is like a free-form, stream of consciousness list of everything I have done over the past year.  Then I start to make my connections to the key or buzz-words that HR requires.  From there, I begin to craft the actual narrative and justification statements.  Because I do have this irreverent side to me, I occasionally go ahead and write in the quirky, sardonic things I would love to say.  (Ex: I demonstrate tact and diplomacy when dealing with my peers by not commenting that Jane’s presentation could be used as a natural remedy for insomnia.)  But I am always careful to remove them from the final document.  When I think I have the document complete, I set it aside for a few hours to a day before going back and proof-reading.

I suppose I have to admit that the self assessment process has some value other than forcing me to consult a thesaurus to come up with different ways to say “I rock and deserve a raise.”  It does make you think about your contributions to the company over the course of the year.  I can even admit that when my boss and I have not agreed on a rating, it has sparked a conversation around development opportunities or areas of improvement that ultimately serve to make me a better person and a better employee.  I guess the hardest part for me is reigning in my sense of humor when faced with the Dilbert-esque nature of the average self-assessment document.

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

2 Comments

Filed under fun, Mairead Wapole, writing

Old Dogs Part 2: The End of the Story

In January, I wrote a blog about Lui’Ka, my Chinese Shar-Pei, and how age was starting to catch up to her.  When I wrote the blog I knew our time with her was limited and the day was approaching where a decision would have to be made or nature would take its course. On Friday, two days before her 15th birthday, she passed away.

Thursday morning, she was an old dog who could move around on her own, albeit a bit gingerly but she was able to get up and go outside when she needed to.  Thursday night, she wasn’t able to stand up without help.

We were getting ready for bed Thursday night when one of my sons came in to tell us something was wrong with Lui’Ka.  “Mommy, her legs won’t work.”  She must have had some sort of mild stroke because she could walk if we helped her get up, but once she lay down it was as if she couldn’t get her muscles to respond to help her stand back up.  Lui’Ka did not want to sleep on her bed, she seemed to want to be outside beside the Koi Pond, so we carried her outside and made her comfortable beside the pond.  It had become her favorite spot in our yard.  She liked to lie on the slate slab over the skimmer and watch the Koi swim.  I personally think she also liked being able to lean over and get a drink out of what she viewed as a large water dish.

We stayed outside with her for awhile before coming in to put the boys to bed and prepare them for what was going to happen next.  I have to admit that a part of me still hoped she’d go in her sleep, but it was not to be that easy.  The next morning there was no doubt that another stroke had happened and the end was near.  A call was made to the veterinarians office to let them know what had happened and that we’d be coming in as soon as they could take us.

Lui’Ka left this world with the feel of my oldest son’s hand stroking her fur and the knowledge that she was loved.

Rest in peace my friend.

Lui'Ka by the Koi Pond

Lui’Ka by the Koi Pond

We plan to move an iris bed from one part of our yard to curve around the side of the pond.  When we get her ashes back, we’ll put them on the irises so that she will always be beside the pond.  I’d like to find a nice concrete statue of a sleeping Shar-Pei to go in the garden in memory of her.  If anyone has seen a statue like this, please let me know.

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

1 Comment

Filed under life, Mairead Wapole, writing

Mean Girls

I thought when I graduated from high school that I would leave the “mean girls” behind but, sadly, my first roommate and suitemates were all members of that breed.  I was a transfer student and they had planned to room together with another girl who had apparently decided to elope with some guy she met over the summer.  So, we got stuck with one another.  While it was fascinating to watch them up close and outside of the public eye – mean girls are sort of like sharks in blood saturated water, they are as likely to take a bite out of each other as their prey – I was sure that once I entered the working world they would be elsewhere.  Alas, after more than 25 years in the workforce, I have come to accept that the stereotypical “mean girl” is as much a part of life as taxes and dying.

As a child and teenager, I was always puzzled by “mean girl” behavior and admittedly, at times, deeply hurt by their barbed comments or actions.  As a young adult, I learned how to ignore them or at least pretend to be ignoring them.  As a seasoned adult, (translation – over 40) I am more amused by them than anything else.  The only thing that has changed is the tracks of time on our faces and the fact that we all need to start thinking about covering those pesky grey hairs.  The faces change but the games remain the same.

Normally I avoid them, but I’m getting quite chummy with a mean girl these days.

Her name is Candee.  She’s a character in my current work in progress and I’m having a lot of fun with her.  Candee started out as just a minor character, but she is taking more and more of the center stage and, though I fully intend to kill her off in a particularly fitting manner, she is helping me work through a difficult scene that was holding up the completion of my book.  In developing her character, I’m revisiting memories of every mean girl I’ve run up against in my life.  It’s been an interesting trip down memory lane.  I’ve also realized that either there are a lot of “mean girls” in the world or I am a magnet for their attention.

The motivation of the stereotype has, in my opinion, been hashed out enough.  Some say the behavior is a manifestation of poor self esteem, herd mentality, a need to control everyone and everything, bad breeding/manners, really bad PMS, or just a general snarkiness in the personality.  I’ve even heard it attributed to eating disorders and low blood sugar.  (That one I can buy, when I’m hungry or my blood sugar is tanking, I can be pretty mean too.)  Regardless of the cause, the end result is the same – somebody gets their figurative hair pulled and spat at.

In my story, the “mean girl” is the perfect foil.  She’s the one who can be just despicable enough in her dealings with others that next to her, my anti-heroine seems reasonable and relatable, yet she isn’t really even evil nor does she distract from my villain.  She’s just really mean.  Candee is something of a demi-villain if you will.  At the same time, she has something that does draw people to her and allows her to get close enough to draw blood – in this case literally and figuratively.  She’s no “bad girl with a heart of gold” – in fact, I’m not entirely sure she even has one and I’m pretty sure her victims would agree with me.

In general, I tend to build my characters on traits or characteristics that can’t be attributable to one particular person.  Under the “write what you know” school of thought, I suppose it could be said that there are usually traces of people I care about in my main characters or hero/heroines but not so much with my villains.  Up to now that is.  Candee seems to be taking on many of the physical traits of one particular person from my past.  It was a bit of a shock to realize that on some levels, I see this person as a “mean girl” because I hadn’t thought of her that way; a bit unkind or careless in how she expressed herself, but otherwise fairly harmless.  As I read back over what I have written, I am seeing her in a whole new light.  I do wonder if it’s time for me to buy that shirt that cautions others to be nice or they might wind up in my next novel.  Or perhaps I need to hire a good attorney.

So, how often do you use or realized you have used a real person from your life as the basis for a character?  And, how far can you go without risking a lawsuit?

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and
contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her
belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres.
Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind
Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com)
or Amazon.com.

2 Comments

Filed under Mairead Wapole, writing

Temptation & Motivation

I’ve been thinking a lot about temptation and motivation lately.  In part because of my weight loss efforts and in part because I am struggling with the “why” of how one of my characters needs to act for the final chapters of my sequel to A Love Out of Time to work.

The surface level mechanics of both temptation and motivation I get.  It’s the deep “lizard brain” stuff that escapes me.  Take the weight loss thing for example.  I want to lose the weight and I believe that I am motivated.  I’ve kicked my addiction to Mountain Dew and all carbonated sodas.  I am well aware of the nutritional information of everything I put in my mouth and just how long I would need to work out to burn it off.  I have a well thought out plan that will pull two pounds a week off me, as long as I stick to it.  Life is going along just fine and I am on track, then a slice of cheesecake crosses my path and the next thing I know, I’m in a carb coma wondering where the hell my will-power disappeared to.

So, how does one resist temptation?  What truly motivates someone to do or to not do something?  And most importantly, what makes sense or what is believable to a reader?  I can guarantee that some of you reading the previous paragraph totally understand what I am talking about and there are others who don’t.  For them it’s a simple equation of want to lose weight, don’t eat the cheesecake.  But that is another topic.

When I work on character development, one of the tools I use is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to lay a ground work for why a character is tempted or motivated to behave in a particular manner.  For the basic framework, it works for writing and in trying to figure out why the heck I do what I do in my own life.  Unfortunately, Maslow didn’t have all the answers.

Given we all have different filters on our perceptions of the world around us and of how other people are acting, one can’t just assume that your motivators will be the same as your neighbors.  Think about the work-place and if you have ever had to manage/supervise others.  What motivates one employee to correct performance issues is not necessarily going to work on another.

Writing about truly evil characters is easy.  They can behave in all sorts of heinous ways simply because we accept that the villain’s actions or motivations will be outside the norm or what we consider reasonable.  If their actions were reasonable, they wouldn’t be such a “bad” character.  Likewise, creating a traditional hero or heroine is pretty easy.  Writing a true anti-hero or heroine is slightly more difficult (and I think incredibly fun) but what I find the hardest is taking a traditional hero or heroine and making them do something that on the surface seems to go against the grain of everything you believe of them.  Some could argue that what you’ve done is simply flipped them to anti-hero status, but I disagree.  It’s more complex than that. Finding that one event, that one temptation that even they can’t overcome, or that motivational need that answers the question of why.  That is my current quest.  (And maybe if I can figure that out, I can apply it to my cheesecake issue.)

What tools do you use to develop complex characters?

 

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead seeks work/life balance and writes paranormal romance. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

5 Comments

Filed under life, Mairead Wapole, writing

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques From Authors of Second Wind Publishing — Excerpt: Writers Block

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Authors of Second Wind Publishing is the 100th book published by Second Wind.  The book is dedicated to everyone who made this accomplishment possible: our authors, our readers, our friends, and our followers. Thank you!

EXCERPT FROM NOVEL WRITING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FROM AUTHORS OF SECOND WIND PUBLISHING

Overcoming Writer’s Block

By
Mairead Walpole
Author of:

A Love Out of Time

We’ve all been there. Two hours go by and all you have written is “Chapter One” and you’ve changed the font type twice and the size once. You have developed a severe case of Writer’s Block. Don’t panic, don’t toss your computer out the window, and don’t write yourself off as a writer, this too will pass. And, when you least expect it, it will happen again so find some strategies that work for you.

A creative writing professor of mine in college told us that the best way to overcome Writer’s Block was to write your way out of it. Write your way out of Writer’s Block? Er, really?

Yes, really. When I am dealing with a bout of that wretched state, I write. I will admit that most of what I write is absolute dreck that will never see the light of day, but just like a walk on the beach after a storm, amid the sea foam and debris one can find the occasional treasure. On occasion, what I write about evolves into a blog article or a completely new storyline. On other occasions, the only response is to hold down the backspace key or use the highlight CTRL X combo.

I limit the amount of time that I will spend writing my way out of the block. Usually 15 to 30 minutes a day. (I don’t want to develop any repetitive stress injuries from the deleting or highlight CTRL X maneuvers.) Some folks may need more than that, but this time frame works for me. I also allow the Muse to lead me down creative paths that weren’t in my original storyline. Writer’s Block can be a good thing. It can help you see a plot that has stagnated or a character that you originally thought was a minor one should be expanded.

One of the first things that I will do is go back to my original notes and any outlines I put together. I tend to do an analysis of the basic plot. Does it make sense? Do the characters seem flat or unbelievable? I look at the outline from a reader’s perspective to see if I can find any gaps or flaws in the logical progression. Then I re-read what I have written. If still am not getting anywhere, I will ask a trusted friend or critique partner to read what I have done thus far and give me some feedback. And, I continue to write. Eventually, the block will lift and I am back on track, perhaps with a different story than the one I started out with.

 

***

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon (Print & Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Smashwords (all ebook formats including palm devices)

1 Comment

Filed under books, writing

Old Dogs

My dog is old.  I knew she was getting up there in age, but I guess the reality hadn’t sunk in until recently.  This past August marked her fourteenth year and, for her breed, this is considered on the far side of the average lifespan.  Lui’Ka, short for Lui’Ka Dem Wrinkles, is a Chinese Shar-Pei.  For breed enthusiasts she is a red dilute brush coat with a hippo muzzle and still has her face wrinkles but not her body ones; unless she’s sitting and then she has a few just above her tail.  Her Mom and Dad were show dogs, but unfortunately, she did not have the requisite scissor bite and had to have her eyes done so she was deemed pet quality.  Fortunately for me, that meant I could afford her.

Lui’Ka has always had a quirky personality.  She loves everyone, once she meets them.  Lui’Ka grew up with cats and tolerates other dogs.  She even seems to have some squirrel friends.  We’ve found her curled up with them in her dog bed on our back porch.  My kids adore her and she’s always happy to help keep their faces clean.  While she doesn’t have the slightest interest in playing fetch – much to the frustration of my kids – she is thrilled to chase them about the yard and be chased.  Her favorite spots to nap are at your feet, in her dog bed on the porch, or on the slate slab we have over the Koi pond skimmer.

Lui’Ka has enjoyed a healthy and happy life to date, but she is showing definite signs of slowing down.

When we took her to the groomer three weeks ago, she wasn’t able to hop up into the van.  She tried, but I was afraid she’d hurt herself, so I picked her up and put her in the van.  Three hours later, when we picked her up, I was struck by the amount of grey in her fur and on her muzzle.  I have noticed a bit of stiffness in her movements and the boys tell me that she isn’t up for playing chase these days.  The past few mornings, I’ve had to give her a gentle shake to wake her up to put her outside for her morning constitutional.  Tonight, she didn’t wake up at the sound of her food hitting the bowl.  My son was afraid she’d passed away but she woke up when I touched her.

Knowing that we’ll be saying our final good-byes in the not too distant future is hard to think about.  The boys start getting teary eyed whenever they think about her passing away.  I find myself getting a lump in my throat as well.  If I could have one wish around her passing, it would be that she would just slip away gently during one of her afternoon naps.  An old dog napping in a sun-dappled spot on a porch.

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

4 Comments

Filed under life, Mairead Wapole

December 22, 2012…and we’re still here.

Everyone okay?  No Aliens demanding our assimilation? No Zombies on the front lawn?  The planet’s magnetic poles still where they were yesterday?  No solar flares about to wipe out the electronic age and cause widespread withdrawal from our TV and other devices?  Cool, because it would have truly sucked if the one year when I had all my Christmas shopping done, wrapped, and mailed – without incurring the expedited shipping charges to arrive on Christmas Eve – was the year the world ended.

Now that it’s established that it’s business as usual, I guess I have to finish up my “Christmas Cleaning” and prepare for the family gatherings as well as the wrapping paper chaos that my children will turn my living/family room into on Tuesday morning.  Most people do spring or fall cleaning, not me.  Every year, starting the weekend after Thanksgiving (when everyone else is out shopping), I begin my annual purge/organize and clean.  I throw out what can’t be repaired, reused, recycled or repurposed.  I go through old papers and either shred or recycle.  I donate anything that the kids haven’t played with in a year, things that they have out-grown, or any item that they just don’t like or use.  I go through my own wardrobe and donate anything that doesn’t fit or I haven’t worn in the past two years.  I do a limited purge on my husband’s stuff as well.  Then I organize what’s left and find homes for everything.  What doesn’t have a home after all of this will go to the donation center, and then I clean. Some years my enthusiasm is lackluster, some years I am so energized I could significantly reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint if someone could figure out how to plug me into the grid.

This year, perhaps spurred by a recent TLC marathon of “Hoarders”, I decided to tackle my old “idea file” and see if there was anything that could be tossed.  This “file” is actually two bankers box of papers with no order or system of organization that I used to store my story ideas before I switched to writing on a computer.  The papers are anything from a sentence scribbled on the back of an envelope to a couple of rough (very rough) first drafts of novels.  The quality of the writing or concepts is equally varied.  Unlike some writers I have met over the course of my lifetime, I will freely admit that sometimes what I produce is utter dreck.  So, I spent several hours alternating between mortification, amusement, and wonder.  Anything that would cause my family shame and embarrassment, or my alma mater to request the return of my degree in English, were it to be released posthumously was consigned to the shred pile.  (Not taking any chances of it ever being viewed by other eyes while being sorted at the recycling center.)  Just like there are some things that just can’t be unseen, there are some things that just can’t be unread.

While working through the papers, I found some old notes for a storyline set in 2012 and using the Mayan calendar as the catalyst for the plot that I had written shortly after graduating from college.  The basic story concept I had sketched out has been done in some fashion a number of times by different authors in the last five years, so nothing is fresh about it.  Further, since we all woke up this morning to find we weren’t extinct or in the throes of an alien invasion or the Zombie Apocalypse, the 2012 angle won’t work either.  Regardless of those pretty major flaws, there is some good stuff in those notes that I can repurpose to a new storyline – one I can work on after I deliver the other promised works in progress to my extremely patient, tolerant, and absolute saint of a publisher.

An acquaintance asked me the other day how I get the ideas for my stories.  I told her that ideas come from everywhere when I am in the right frame of mind – current events, historical events, my crazy imagination, conversations I hear snippets of, and from watching people.  I guess now I have to add cleaning to that list.

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

3 Comments

Filed under Humor, Mairead Wapole, musings, writing

Top Ten Most Viewed Posts on the Second Wind Blog

The authors of Second Wind have contributed 1,340 posts to this blog. Since all of those posts are exceptional, each in their own way, it would be impossible to create a list of the ten best bloggeries. Thanks to WordPress statistics, however, it’s a simple matter of listing (in descending order) the ten that have garnered the most views:

Do Not Lean by Norm Brown gives simple and profound advice for navigating the curving roads of life.

Puppy Love by Claire Collins is a complete short story chosen to be included in the Second Wind anthology, Love is on the Wind.

Splish Splash, I was Taking a Bath by Sherrie Hansen rhapsodizes about water: too much water, not enough water, life revolving around water.

What is Your Character’s Favorite Color? — by Pat Bertram shows how to use color to help create colorful characters.

Writer Beware–POV Confusion/Character Overload by Juliet Waldron explains the dangers of too many point of view shifts.

One-eyed One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater by Claire Collins is a humorous reminder about how important it is to have the correct wording and order of words while writing.

Writing Outside the Box by J J Dare taps into our quirky side.

The Importance of Imagery–by Deborah J Ledford talks about how carefully crafted images will be ones your reader will not soon forget.

The lure of the dark-side – anti-heroes and anti-heroines by Mairead Walpole tells us what makes for a wonderful and well-rounded anti-hero.

To the women . . . by Claire Collins is a joyous tribute to motherhood.

We hope you will enjoy visiting (or revisiting) these wonderful posts.

1 Comment

Filed under writing