Stressed Out

I am one of those people who do not handle stress very well. My personality leans towards order and in my life, I tend to plan. So when the best laid plans go array, it is not a pretty sight.

Let me give a few examples from the past week:

On the last day of the out of state music festival we got in the car to come home and the Check Engine light comes on. I don’t know about you, yet for me, car and computer problems are the worst, probably because in both situations I am helpless. My mechanic gave a diagnosis then suggested calling the dealer to see if any parts are on recall. My mechanic also mentioned that the part in question is just needed for emissions and I can put off getting it fix until then, if I chose. The dealer told me if I didn’t fix it my car would blow up.

Full confession, I already had one engine blow up on me and I didn’t want to go through a repeat.

Strike one.

In addition to writing my books, I also teach. I have my semesters planned out and usually about a week or so prior to the start, I check my technology to make sure everything is working. After all, why give “the kids” the excuse that the links failed so they couldn’t do the assignment. One institution decided to upgrade their system. Classes start on Monday and I am still waiting to get my course shell together.

Strike two.

The frosting on the cake came this morning. I have been doing business with a company for almost three decades. I called with an issue and the customer “service” (I use the term loosely) representative told me “as a courtesy I will give you a one-time refund.” I responded, “As a courtesy? You need a better word choice because what you are doing is proving customer service AND as a loyal customer, this will exist as long as I chose to do business with your company.” The conversation deteriorated from there. Never get a customer service rep off their script. Usually they can’t handle the pressure of communicating.

Strike three.

We live in a stressful world. We are bombarded by media by the minute. People overall are more aggressive towards each other. In many cases folks are working 24/7 because they refuse to disconnect from the world.

I really don’t know the answer yet I do know that frustration should not be ouIMG_20160613_105421r normal state. I’m the weirdo who doesn’t drink alcohol, do drugs, or eat sugar. My only vice is to dance. After a very frustrating day, my husband advised we should go to one of the last summer on the beach concerts. My first thought, out of pure frustration, was that he just wanted to go and he couldn’t possibly relate to my situation to even suggest we go out when I obviously have so much to complete in so little time. (Yes, that is my inside voice. Annoying, huh?) We went, only to have the music of the Rivergods calm me down. Life had a much better view after listening to live music.

Maybe that is the key…just listen to the music.

Today I write this at place I bought my car. They are re-diagnosing the problem. I listened to Will Evans Band on the way and stayed calm until the idiot in the Jaguar almost side swiped me off the road. Then I turned off the CD, said a very bad word, and stewed the rest of my journey.

A light jazz plays in background. The music isn’t danceable, yet it is still calming. Maybe one of my stressers will disappear. If not, I just need to find more music.

How To Write Over 2,000 Words A Day

Okay – some of my writer friends are looking at this title and laughing thinking how much of a slacker number this is because they hit 2,000 words with their eyes closed.

Well I don’t.

A very wise investment professional once used the quote, “Some days peanuts, some days shells.” As a writer, I experience both. Some days the words flow and I feel like I can write an entire novel in one sitting, while others are just a struggle to get a paragraph down.

My last few days I managed to get in the groove and produce over 2,000 words a day. I’m not saying everything I wrote is good, or usable, and doesn’t need editing. The words are on the paper.

This is a first draft people. It takes time to mature.

So how does one write 2,000 words a day. The easy answer is you sit at your computer, make sure the computer is turned on, and you write.

Boom. Done. Not quite.

In my experience, I have spent many days staring at my screen, typing nothing because I can’t think of what to write. Apparently this happens to a lot of inspiring writers because I have heard this many a times from many people. Lately, I have used Walter Mosley’s advice from his ThrillerFest workshop as motivation, “Write every day.”

And I have. My most productive days seem to come after I have spent time listening to live music the night prior. Although I can’t figure out why since I am usually exhausted too. For the last four days I was fortunate to attend one of those huge music festivals. Normally the computer would stay home locked in the safe, except Walter said you have to write every day and while a pen and paper would suffice, I would only have to type it all in later. To be honest, I don’t think I would have written so much “manually” anyway.

Here is the breakdown: I wrote the morning before we left, around 1,000 words. Went and saw two bands that evening, got up the next day and wrote about 2,000 words. Went and saw five band, crashed hard (slept soundly), got up, saw four bands, skipped the headliner because we’re not a fan, came back to the room and wrote 2,200 words. The final day I got up, wrote only 1,000 words because Warren Haynes was doing a solo set at noon and well, one does not miss Warren Haynes solo.

I had the motivation; time was my enemy.

I’m writing this on Monday so no counts in yet I know they’ll be high. My characters are screaming to be heard as I finish this post. Since this was the Summer Of Live Music for me, I looked back at my word count for mornings after concerts. Not only were my counts up, in my opinion, the quality appeared better.

It seems to me that live music is my muse.

So the answer to How To Write 2,000 Words A Day is feed your soul, find your muse, and then sit and write.

Good luck and happy writing!

I Miss Your Presence

Twenty-one years ago today I still worked in advertising at a newspaper. My phone rang and my friend Paul, without any kind of preface, stated, “Lynnz, I just heard Jerry died,”

I told him I’d call him right back and ran up to the newsroom to track down R13882141_1058054404291015_7376071392435824000_noger, the paper’s rock critic at that time. I started to ask and before I could get the question out Roger replied, “Reports came in this morning. He had a heart attack and died in his sleep.”

The death of a musician may not mean a lot to most people yet to hundreds of thousands, the death of Jerry Garcia symbolized the end of an era. For those who are not aware, Garcia was the leader of the band The Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead became one of the most iconic bands to emerge from the 1960’s San Francisco era.

After news got out, my phone rang off the hook with friends calling to grieve and clients to offer sympathy. The people who knew me, then and now, know that I have a love for The Grateful Dead as I am not one to keep this part of myself secret.

Two months’ prior, my husband kicked me out the door and instructed my friends, Jeff and Abby, to take me to see the band in Highgate, Vermont. I was visibly pregnant with our first child and hubby thought I needed a Grateful break.

I was blessed to be there and all the other times I had the privilege to experience Mr. Garcia on stage with The Dead, solo, or his own band. My son was blessed too. He got to experience The Grateful Dead bouncing around inside of me. (He was also the cause of my nap during drums and space).  When my younger self went to shows and saw little kids dancing around, I had hoped someday to dance with my little one. (Once born, I did bring him to see the remaining members on different occasions. He got to experience “the scene” yet for me, something was always missing).

The memorial concert in Walnut Hill Park with Max Creek and all the others across the world sent Mr. Garcia to his next destination with love and light.

There is not enough space here to explain the impact that this man, whom I never met, had on my life, so I will simply end with, “Thank you, Jerry. You are still missed.”