Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fine Honeys and the Voice From Above

Being a librarian isn't horrible. Besides the shelving and removing petrified pizza pockets from clever hiding spots its pretty peachy. I'm sitting here, way too early to be awake (7:30 am, don't judge me. Its like the middle of the night if you aren't a morning person), munching on a granola bar I dug out of my mother's teacher closet and listening to the priest praying in Mass over the speakers. I would go somewhere else until the nasal droning was over but being a Catholic school building that my homeschool co-op only rents and thus there is a speaker in every room it would be futile. I think even the bathrooms have speakers installed. Honestly I'm just glad that the bathroom stalls have doors this year. Though perhaps the only time when its harder to pee without a door is when it sounds like a priest is praying above your head.

I've been thinking lately (Stop looking so shocked, I do use my cerebrum at full capacity every once in a while, just to make sure it still works) about the word "Beautiful". Sure its a lovely, positive word that, when complimented as beautiful or possessing something of beauty, will draw a grin. Yet I can't help but notice that it has become a scapegoat word. 

Scapegoat Word: The word to use when you can't think of a better one, the socially accepted praise word. 

(Definition as according to the Hannah-Hoo Dictionary, circa 1995.) 

Don't get me wrong, its flattering to be called or have something I've created called beautiful. (Though that's not the usual word people use to describe my blog. Quirky, nonsensical, and charmingly insane are the more common.) At the same time its similar to other scapegoat words like, "Wow", "Ok", "Nice", "Cool", and "Interesting". Like when someone shows you a picture of their newborn and its looks more like a mildly hairy Chinese dumpling than a baby but, due to having some social graces, you say, "Oh, how nice, she's beautiful!" See? Scapegoat words.

Due to this lack of imaginative positive descriptors I have complied a list of alternatives. It doesn't matter if you are complimenting a loved one, a painting, or yourself in a mirror. Get creative and give "Beautiful" a vacation (I'm talking to you, One Direction.) Whatever kind of compliment you choose to substitute with, try to be sincere. Like a convincing lie a convincing complement, even when trying to be nice about an ugly baby, must have a grain of truth. 

Swagalicious (Warning: Only acceptable if you are a multi-millionaire Canadian pop singer)
   and my all time favorite: 

Note that these words won't quite fit into all compliments. "Oh my Golden Goldfish, your eyes are _______!" would fit the majority in a way that "Guurl, you such a fine honey. *$#@, that booty be _______!" would not. Though perhaps if the delinquent backstreet boys that hang about outside the metro started upping their complements they would have more takers. Expletives and crude terms will get you nowhere but "My fair lady, your gluteus maximus is of a most rotund and aesthetically-appeasing curvature. Please, allow me to court you." will at least produce a slap instead of a spray of mace.

I hear the wild call of librarian, it sounds like sharpening pencils and the beep of a book scanner. Suddenly I feel the urge to wear a nametag, buy clothing with excessive amounts of brown 'n' beige, and wear sensible shoes. I might have to go deface some math books to regain my Hannah equilibrium. Or do my worldview class homework which consists of reading the textbook and trying not to burst out laughing when reading about "Pantheistic Worldview". Or, as I accidentally said in class, the "Panty-istic Worldview".

Cuddling Hedgehogs,


Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Beat, Cheat, and Swindle Writer's Block in 6 Steps

Like any writer or blogger I've had several bouts in the ring with writer's block. Just this week, in fact, I've spent far too much time staring at a blank word document as the typing bar appears and disappears like the computer is impatiently tapping it's foot while waiting for me to write something, ANYTHING.
Watching the sky look like a person trying to smile but crying anyway I was suddenly hit with inspiration like a cold fish slapped across one's face. "Hannah, you fantastic fool!" I cried. "You have writer's block, people have been asking you how to cure writer's block, and your blog is even named writer's block. THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUS: You need to go make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and that might give you an idea for your next blog post!" One classy pb&j later I was hit with yet another cold fish of inspiration and well, here I am.

Since you obviously stumbled upon this while searching for the solution to writer's block (that, or you googled "How to beat, cheat, and swindle someone" in which case...get help) the first thing to realize is that everyone who writes deals with writer's block. It doesn't matter if you write novels, screenplays, or automatic cheese grater operator manuals; even the greatest authors experience idea constipation.

"But Hannah," you accuse, "Isn't writing about writer's block only because you can't think of something else to write cheating?" 


Be quiet and lets pretend you didn't make that completely accurate observation. As this person who is apparently a writer but I've never read once said,

“Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all” 

So sit back, keep your smart aleck comments to yourself, and learn, young writing padawan.

1. STOP.

Staring at that endless blank piece of paper will only drive you insane and give you a blinding headache. Put down the pencil, turn off the computer, and...

2. Go Do Something.

It doesn't matter what, only that you go and DO. Take a bike ride, a bath, or if you're into petty larceny, someone's handbag (though this is not recommended if you don't want to end up writing on prison cell walls.) Basically any activity that will distract you from your dilemma and refresh your brain with new material. Leaving the house and going out among people can really help. Scary, I know, but worthwhile. 

3. Read.

The ultimate key to writing is reading. Reading a well-written novel subconsciously builds your vocabulary as well as installing the patterns of story lines and sentence structures. Not to mention that the right book can hold your breath and attention for hours. 

4. Brainstorm.

When you've spent a few hours or days living life elsewhere come back to that paper, sit, and write out everything that comes to your mind for the next 15 minutes. Random words, sentences, half-baked ideas, let no thought be left behind. When the times up sit back, re-read your paper, and briefly wonder if you're insane. 

5. Form an Idea.

80% of the time you will have at least the fetus of an idea after brainstorming. If the case of Writer's Block is particularly stubborn then repeat steps 1 - 5. Occasionally it just takes time. If you do have an inkling tackle it from out of the bushes so it can't get away then begin to expand upon it via writing.

For example: The scribbled words "Pooh Bear" and "sadness" become "Emo pooh bear" which in turn sparks the idea, "What if Pooh Bear turned emo?" and you begin to write a story. Voila, the brainstorm formula. 

6. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. 

Writer's Block is like a wandering kitten. It comes, it goes, it tunnels into your pantry and refuses to leave for weeks living off of cereal and baked beans. metaphor is exhausted. And so will you be if you battle Write's Block. A ray of hope in this is that when you do break the writing barrier if you continue to write often you can stave of blockage for a long time. Eventually you will improve as a word weaver to the point that you don't need that spark of inspiration, you will create it. 

Go forth and write, m'dears. Since I have a wildly exciting social life I'm going to go spend my Friday night as I often do: making dinner, dancing, and singing about cold fried rice to amuse myself. 

May all your goldfish be golden,