Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Weather Report

Gabriella Herkert
Catnapped and Doggone

Brain storm. Cerebral precipitation. Low barometric intellect. I’m from Seattle. We’ve got a thousand ways to say don’t bother styling your hair, it will never make it to the car. As a result, we’ve learned to live in the eye of the storm. I also pooh-pooh the bumbershoot, like many a local. But when it comes to the mocking blank page or tick-tocking deadline, I admit, I’ll head to any port in a storm. Here’s my top ten favorite moorage spots.

10. My iPhone notes app. This is where I’m storing all the flashes of brilliance that strike me in the frozen food aisle or while walking the dog (or when she walks me). I nearly had a heart attack when I left the stupid thing in a cab in New York City earlier this year. Fortunately, some deity thinks those random twitches of inspiration should ferment to actual stories because the very kind cab driver brought the phone back to me during a blinding snow storm. He gets a mention in the new book. Literary karma.

9. Rebecca Cantrell is brilliant. Chocolate. Lots of it. Okay, maybe not lots. I have a blood sugar problem which means there’s a moment when self-medicated erudition slips over to table dancing, indecipherable sleep note like stories and falling down. In that order.

8. Bill Cameron is also brilliant. You simply cannot make up what you might overhear in the strangest places. Two men, nice power suits, in line at the Starbucks discussing how a new girlfriend has named his private parts Buck which turned out to be the guy’s great uncle in the nursing home who drooled and smelled bad. Apparently it was very inhibiting but how do you tell the woman? I didn’t offer any advice but I did pull out my iPhone.

7. One word. Hempfest.

6. Play a game online as an alter ego with the chat function turned on. And chat in character. There are a couple of warnings that come with number six. DO NOT PLAY FOR REAL MONEY, especially if your character has compulsive issues. Also, IRL is not good for you. Really not good. If another player suggest it, assume he’s a reviewer with indigestion and get the heck out of Dodge.

5. Buy Tabletop Conversations. It’s a non-game game that you can play by yourself. It asks real questions, the kind that make you think about what’s real for you. It is as useful playing as yourself as it is playing as a character. Playing the Girlfriend edition with a mixed crowd is even more entertaining.

4. Scare yourself. It’s amazing how much repression and paralysis build up over time. Sometimes you need to blow the clog out. Listen to Anne Rice after dark. Look over the edge at the scenic spot in your neighborhood. Or go to the $5 to fly flying trapeze event. That five dollars buys you two moments, the ladder then the take your toes off the platform moment. What a bargain. The adrenaline will kick start your brain and/or make you throw up. But you will feel energy shooting from your fingertips onto your keyboard.

3. Pick up your camera. You don’t even have to take any pictures. Just look through the view finder and ask yourself, what story does this picture tell? Does that picture answer all the question words? Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? What about the senses – are they all present? Practicing seeing the story, filling in the blanks in your imagination, translates to the page. Plus you don’t take a lot of snaps where you later ask yourself what the heck was I looking at?

2. Cut your own hair with something other than scissors. Okay, pinking shears and children’s safety scissors are acceptable but nowhere near as good as a Leatherman’s tool. Yes, I have done this. You know why this works? Because I am not a professional hair stylist and it shows. In every mirror in my house. Which leaves two rooms I can be in post-shearing without wanting to cry – the bedroom where my insomnia mocks me and the study where my computer screams come over hair felony. We have things to do.

1. Call my mother. She lives in the Midwest version of Twin Peaks, has a family so dysfunctional the Munsters look normal in comparison and I’m pretty sure she’s off her meds. If there isn’t an idea there, there isn’t an idea. I do hope I’m adopted.

Thanks for reading.



Meredith Cole said...

I like your camera idea and phone note taking, Gabi -- but think I'll skip the hair cutting. I make a policy of leaving that to professionals! But you and Rebecca are so right--everything always goes better with chocolate.

Gabi said...

The hair cutting and scaring yourself can easily be put into the same category. You should try it'll make your regular stylist squeeze you in no matter how busy she is and you can share a box of bon bons while she "fixes" your work.

Shane Gericke said...

Hellfire, this stuff is brilliant, Gabi. I should cut my own hair with something fun. It'll be back in full in four weeks, what could go wrong????

I wanna hear Mom stories. You going to Bouchercon?

Rebecca Cantrell said...

I haven't tried the hair cutting thing, but I can totally see the value of it. Plus, everyone staring at you like you're a leper has to help cultivate the outsider status that leads to you looking yourself away and writing through the despair.

I once let my sister cut my hair the day before school pictures. Maybe that's the real reason I became a writer.

Great ideas, Gabi!

Gabi said...

I love how the writers all think the personal hair cutting is a fine idea. Mostly, my non-writing friends and strangers stare or make sure not to make any eye contact at all. I revel in finding my "people."