Month: November 2014

Stuck at 5,000

Yes! I am once again taking part in NaNoWriMo this year! Except, perhaps it’s more accurate to say I *was* taking part, because I hit 5,000 words and I was really proud and then I just got bogged down and bored with the whole thing and I stopped.

Still, I did learn something this month: I like writing fantasy more than I ever knew. In fact, I tried to put a more realistic family scene in my story, and I ended up just skipping the whole scene because I just didn’t care. I really had fun with the fantasy parts, though.

Except for the other thing I learned, which is that writing fantasy has its own set of challenges. I chose a by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach this year, just to see how effective that was for me, and I guess the answer is that I would do better to take some notes before I get started. If I’m creating a world that has its own backstory, I think I might have better momentum if I’m not trying to create the backstory at the same time I’m trying to push the plot forward. I start questioning whether or not my premise makes sense, whether it’s believable or not, and I’m pretty sure that’s where I got bogged down.

But, oh, look. See what I’m doing? If I have to create a backstory before I even start, I may not ever even get started. My gosh, my inner editor is loud, constantly yapping away and very hard to ignore.

I just need not to worry about it and Keep On Writing.

Ha. Easier said than done. I know, intellectually, exactly what I need to do (see above). It’s just doing it that’s the problem.

On the other hand, maybe taking on a big project like this isn’t the smartest thing at a time when I’m also conducting a job search. It’s very tough to put a lot of energy into TWO projects that make you feel insecure.

I guess that’s really why I decided that diving back into reading was a better way to handle my stress this month. Because that’s just what I did.

National Diving Into Reading To Alleviate Stress And Insecurity Month.

It’s got quite a ring to it. Don’t you think?

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie De Hoy

Gobble, Gobble

Oh, it’s the season of Advice from the Turkey People. The people who buy a fresh turkey, the people who brine the turkey, the people who make all kinds of fancy stuffings and dressings and other accoutrements to the traditional holiday dinner.

Well, I buy a frozen turkey from our local grocery store. I’ve been roasting turkeys long enough that I usually remember to start thawing it in the fridge on Monday. I do cut my own bread cubes, I do simmer the neck and the giblets to make bread stuffing from scratch. My daughter always bakes corn bread and I put my son in charge of the pumpkin pie a couple of years ago. He actually found this online recipe that makes it really easy to make homemade pie crust. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. And every year I give thanks for that green bean dish with the crispy onions on top, which is traditional and easy enough to make that I can assign it to my mother who can’t cook but always wants to “bring something.”

I began the tradition of cooking the traditional turkey dinner about ten years ago, when I must have gotten completely fed up with driving to relatives’ houses and just started making Thanksgiving dinner on my own. I think it was the year that my daughter was three, my son was one, and my good friend was going through a divorce. I know she came to dinner that year, and I was very happy to have her. I remember hovering helplessly above the turkey with a meat thermometer, which I had never used before, wondering where to shove it into the bird; and then just handing it over to Pen, who stabbed it into the turkey with considerable authority. I remember the awe I felt at her decisive action, even though she had never roasted a turkey before either.

Last year, I decided I had roasted too many turkeys too many years in a row, and we went to my parents’ house instead. Yeah, mistake. Remember up above there, when I told you my mother can’t cook? Well, she bought pre-made stuffing from the prepared-food section of the grocery store, spooned it ready-made into the turkey, and that was our experience for the year. I mean, I wasn’t exactly expecting her to make it from scratch, but really? You can easily buy the kit with the bread cubes and herb mix and all that. I am totally taking back Thanksgiving dinner this year. If I have to go through the tradition, my grandmother’s way of making stuffing, and me eating it and floating on waves of heavenly homemade-stuffing bliss, is my reward. Darn it.

And it turned out that my husband was also mad, because after decades of being a vegetarian and not eating turkey, he turned forty and started eating some kinds of meat. And what did I do that year? Delegated the turkey to my non-cooking mother. So I guess I’m taking Thanksgiving back for both of us this year.

I’m trying to think of Thanksgiving this year as the very first year when my husband and I will be making and eating our very own turkey together. Of course, it’s also the very first year when my dad, who died in April, won’t be with us. I mean, judging from his general demeanor on the day, Thanksgiving wasn’t exactly my father’s favorite holiday, if he even had one. But, you know. It’s one of those firsts that you have to get through when you’re grieving from a loss.

So this is my Thanksgiving post, perhaps a little too early, but I can feel free to post about it again, or move on to some other topic, before or after the actual holiday. Because I can do whatever I want on my own blog.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Subject, Verb, Object

I love words, and sentences, and paragraphs, and stories. It’s why I’m a blogger. I blog solely for the sheer love of the thing, because it makes my life fuller, and because it cheers me up to feel that I’m making efforts with my writing.

However, even I didn’t enjoy studying English in school very much. So many English classes consisted of identifying the subject, verb, and object of a sentence.

Subject, Verb, Object. Subject, Verb, Object. Absolutely ad nauseum, believe you me.

Sometimes we got a little crazy and learned about direct objects and indirect objects. But then it was back to Subject, Verb, Object (pick which kind). Subject, Verb, Object (pick which kind). I mean, yawn.

I’m thinking about this because I realized, in the course of reading blogs that I follow, that my knowledge of restrictive and non-restrictive clauses was shaky at best. Particularly when it came to using that or which to introduce a clause.

I mean, I get it now. I did a nice handy Google search, found a site that ended in .edu, and educated myself about clauses and how to introduce them. I won’t get into it now, because that’s really not the point of what I’m writing.

I’m just wondering, now that it’s far too late, why my grade-school English education relentlessly hammered Subject, Verb, Object into my brain until it was so repetitive I was ready to throw my pencil across the room. Why all this repetition, when a whole world of sentence structure was still out there, waiting to be discovered?

I had a sixth-grade English teacher who taught us to diagram sentences. I remember prepositional phrases, compound sentences, complex sentences, and even compound-complex sentences. But even then, I don’t remember ever learning about clauses, either restrictive or non-restrictive.

As a side note, Mrs. Parker, said English teacher, was always telling us about the grateful students who would come back years later and thank her for teaching them to diagram sentences. Maybe my life and career have gone the wrong way (how could that be? I’m an English major!), but I have never once had cause to use my finely-honed sentence-diagramming skills. Still, diagramming sentences was certainly more complicated and engaging than yet another year of Subject, Verb, Object.

And I was lucky enough to have an eighth-grade English teacher who taught us about gerunds, infinitives, participles, and the passive voice. However, he was definitely more interested in style and usage than sentence structure. He made me a better writer, in those tender years of my adolescence, and I loved his class.

But, somehow, clauses eluded me all through my grade-school education. Unless I just don’t remember them. Still, look at how much I do remember. And I love this stuff. I love thinking about sentences and how they’re put together. I can’t believe I ever would have forgotten learning about clauses.

I’m not exactly sure what my point is. I’m certainly not about to use my experience as a springboard for complaining about my teachers, and I was lucky to have three strong English teachers in a row in middle school, or the woeful condition of public education thirty years ago.

Probably teaching absolutely all the ins and outs of complicated sentence structure was just out of fashion then. It’s probably stayed out of fashion since then, too.

But, you know. My interests are rarely in line with the prevailing popular culture. I’ve even been reading articles that suggest that blogging is on its way out, and it’s all about twitter now. Well, I very much like meandering on. I did create a twitter account, because I couldn’t live with the possibility (remote) that someone else might steal my pseudonymous twitter handle, but my experience has mostly consisted of getting desperate-sounding emails from the twitter people encouraging me to get more involved with their product.

Still, here on my nice little blog I can talk about myself a lot, and go on and on about clauses and sentence structure. Much better than racking my brains to come up with witty one-liners on twitter.

Twitter might be a little too Subject, Verb, Object for me. And I’ve had more than my fill of that.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Silent “W”

Here I stand, all, all, alone… shrieking into the void about the poor neglected silent “W.” You know, the “W” that appears in “wrought iron.” That silent “W.”

Speaking of wrought iron, why in the world am I constantly reading the word “wreaked” as the past tense of  the verb “to wreak,” as in “to wreak havoc?” The past tense of “to wreak” is wrought, everyone. Even if “wreaked” did not happen to sound exactly the same as “reeked” (and is there a more stomach-turning word than “reeking” in our language? If there is, I don’t want to know about it), the word wrought sounds very much more powerful and resonant. Why would anyone use “wreaked” when “wrought” is so, so much better?

**Note: my inner editor, who never knows when to shut up anyway, is totally in crisis right now. Because in the above paragraph, I used a lot of quotation marks and some italics to designate the word to which I’m referring. All those quotation marks, and there are far too many, look weird and overdone. But using quotation marks and italics in the same paragraph? Appalling inconsistency? Well, I say this, without italics or quotation marks: Pipe down, inner editor. This is a freaking blog post. Chill out and continue your blogging rant already.

Anyway, back to the silent “W.” If I have to read the word “nerve-racking,” minus its silent “W,” one more time, my inner editor and I are both going to flip. It’s “nerve-wracking,” WITH the silent “W.” For goodness’ sake.

And don’t get me started on people who think “baited breath” is acceptable usage. We’re not talking fish bait, we are talking about how your breath has temporarily abated due to shock or stress. “Bated breath” is the order of the day.

My point is, if you’re going to write spine-chilling, overwrought (oh, look, a silent “w”) prose, just please, please, please, do it right.

Cheers and adulation for the silent “W!”

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy